No Mastermind

December 28, 2015


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

So there was going to be a Heresy post on Christmas Eve, but what had started as a bout of influenza turned into several other uncomfortable and non-life-threatening conditions, and the long and the short of it is that I was laid up. I’m never really “healthy,” let’s be honest.  

The New York Times decries the “anti-science” ban on the study of gun violence placed on the CDC:

Imagine if the tobacco industry had been similarly favored by Congress with a ban on federal research about cigarette deaths. Imagine, too, if the auto industry had such a shield during the years when the government successfully fought unsafe cars in the cause of public health. 

The UK’s education secretary, Nicky Morgan, doesn’t think public schools need bother with nonreligious worldviews, and should be teaching that Britain is “in the main Christian.” 

Meredith J.C. Warren tries to work out a lot of the speculation as to what Jesus actually looked like, but more interesting to me is this description of the apostle Paul, which is not unlike the Heretic Paul:

Acts of Paul and Thecla (2.3), an apocryphal story of Paul’s influence on a virgin woman named Thecla, says that Paul was “a man little of stature, thin-haired upon the head, crooked in the legs, of good state of body, with eyebrows joining, and nose somewhat hooked, full of grace: for sometimes he appeared like a man, and sometimes he had the face of an angel.” 

I can’t say I have the face of an angel, but the rest is close.

An 8-year-old Muslim girl is terrified by the anti-Muslim sentiments expressed by particular politically ambitious real estate developers in the U.S., and in response, U.S. servicemembers tweet pictures of themselves with assurances that “#IWillProtectYou.” Army vet Kerri Peek:

Post a picture of you in uniform with the hashtag‪#‎IWillProtectYou‬ to let these children know that we will not hurt them. That they are safe here in America. That we will protect innocents as we always have.

Emily Rauhala follows the travails of a Christian pastor in China, avoiding the authorities amid a crackdown on churches. 

The FDA recalls a bunch of weight loss supplements with ingredients known to be harmful. 

Michigan’s state capitol got a Spaghetti Monster display which, while a cool thing, is kind of creepy looking. 

A former Exxon exec concedes defeat in a climate change bet

A pastor in Maine is challenging the state law that prohibits anti-abortion protesting outside abortion facilities loud enough to be heard inside. 

Obviously it’s too late for this year, but SSA’s August Brunsman had some good thoughts about welcoming atheist kids home for the holidays

The copyright on Mein Kampf expires at the end of the year, and the first reprints are coming to Germany. There is, shall we say, discomfort. 

George Will (tons of fun, that guy) refutes so-called “secular theists,” which he says are those who think government’s complexities are the result of intentional design by humans, saying, “Behind a pencil stand millions of cooperating people, but no mastermind.” Okay. 

This will not surprise you, but a new study shows that, yes, anti-vax parents tend to be rich and white

Quote of the Day:

Herb Silverman visits a mosque and looks to build some friendly connections to the Muslim community. While he does hear some rather unfortunate things about apostasy and opposition to/denial of homosexuality from the local imam, he does have one particular highlight:

The hundred or so Muslims and non-Muslims at the Central Mosque of Charleston open house were uniformly friendly. Our mayor-elect John Tecklenburg was there and spoke warmly about the obligation for our “Holy City” (Charleston’s nickname) to extend tolerance to those of every faith and none. All in all, it was a nice counter to the bad news that seems to dominate the media.

The event ended with a terrific buffet. I consider myself a “gastronomic Jew” because I still enjoy the Jewish food of my childhood. The buffet at the mosque has also turned me into a “gastronomic Muslim.” 

As for me, I’m an extremely picky eater, and have the palate of a 4-year-old. I think that makes me a gastronomic toddler.

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Original image by Shutterstock

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