The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
A working group of 24 geoscientists says, welcome to the Anthropocene epoch. It still remains for the International Commission on Stratigraphy (say that three times fast) to make it “official.” You can read more about the Anthropocene in the Feb/March 2013 cover feature of Free Inquiry.
Joel Baden and Candida Moss look at the efforts of the Green family (of Hobby Lobby infamy) to buy up rare biblical antiquities. Once again, I refer you to previous coverage of said subject in Free Inquiry (subscribers only).
Mick Hume at Spiked opines that one year after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the French government has made clear where it stands on free expression:
There were loud accusations of hypocrisy after the appearance of autocratic governments from the Middle East and Africa at the Paris ‘Je Suis Charlie’ demo. Yet double standards flourished much closer to home. The French authorities led the way, responding to the murderous assault on free speech in their capital by ordering a crackdown – on those whose speech they found offensive. They thus spelled out their version of standing up for free speech: they would fight to the last for the people’s right to say things that government and judges approved of.
Elizabeth Winkler at TNR considers whether France’s version of secularism (laïcité) is a step too far, and only making tensions worse:
Indeed, increased tolerance of difference would also help strengthen the notion that we must tolerate what some people find disagreeable, like the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
MSNBC chickens out, declares it will not show the Hebdo cover image of a murderous God after it “confirms” that is what indeed is being portrayed.
The federal government releases new – yes, new! – dietary guidelines, because apparently we just can’t settle on any of this. The new guidelines say ‘less sugar please’ (duh) and specifically suggest boys and men eat less meat. NYT reports:
While draft recommendations had suggested all Americans adopt more environmentally-sustainable eating habits by cutting back on meat, that advice was dropped from the final guidelines. And longstanding limits on dietary cholesterol were also removed, a victory for the nation’s egg producers, which have long argued that cholesterol from eggs and seafood is not a major health concern.
Congratulations, egg producers?
An Oklahoma federal district court says a Native American high school student may not wear an eagle feather on her tassel, rejecting her First Amendment claim. I wonder how many crosses will be hanging from those tassels.
New Jersey’s Star Ledger editorializes against adding “God bless America” to the Pledge, as a NJ elementary school had. What they don’t mention, though, is that whole wedged-in “under God” part.
P. Sujatha Varma reports from the World Atheist Conference in India:
Recognising that scientific outlook and secularism are the need of the hour, they reiterated their demand for a secular state in letter and in spirit, wherein the voice of non-believers is recognised. Adopting a declaration to this effect, the members said they were concerned about the growing religious indoctrination, poverty, stigma and absence of development that led to ills like extremism and superstition.
Peter Laarman gets Sikivu Hutchinson, Richard Flory, and Kaya Oakes (author of The Nones are Alright) to talk about the religiously unaffiliated at Religion Dispatches.
Stephen Law cannot be stopped, and posts a fictional piece inspired by C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters, titled, of course, The Tapescrew Letters.
In November a meteorite fell in Australia, and it turns out to be older than the Earth and from farther away than Mars.
In Colorado, an American Atheists billboard is vandalized with “God’s Not Dead.” That’ll show ’em!
Unsurprisingly, the most popular document in the FBI’s vault is a memo on UFOs from 1950 addressed to J. Edgar Hoover. The thing is, it’s a memo that more or less says “someone said they saw aliens but we didn’t bother with it.”
The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights says a 20-year-old Syrian ISIS recruit shot and killed his mother in public where she worked when she objected to his commitment to the Islamic State.
Quote of the Day:
Sarah McLaughlin (not the “Arms of the Angels” singer I assume) at The Independent:
Last January, the world witnessed numerous declarations of unwavering support for the principles of freedom of speech. But as we look back at how religious dissent was suppressed in the past year, those words ring empty. Dissidents around the world are still being violently silenced simply because their mere words about the divine depart from the views of the majority. That’s not a state of affairs we should find tolerable. The right to voice opposition to other people’s gods is as important as their right to express belief in them.
The best way to honor the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack is to renew our condemnations of threats to freedom of expression, whether those threats strike close to home or far away, and to call on leaders to stand firm against violent censorship, whatever its form.
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Original image by Shutterstock.
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