The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Along with our related conundrum over Christmas and Santa Claus (there is no such conundrum for Tom Flynn, of course), we skepto-atheists are now faced with a holiday named for a Catholic saint, and many of us are expected to take part in the surrounding mainly-secular rituals, which usually involve buying a lot of things that are red and pink. Like Christmas, the holiday now has little to do with its namesake or faith of origin.
But I suppose there’s nothing wrong with using the opportunity to remind the people you love how much you love them, and to do something nice for them. Of course, you can do that any time you want, and you should, but doing it today is just fine also. But do it because you want to, because you mean it, not because the Rite Aid with bedecked in cards and heart-shaped balloons. Thus ends my catechism.
(For my three-year-old son’s Valentine’s Day party at his daycare, the wife and I helped him make dinosaur cards for his classmates — see the image in this post. And by “helped,” I mean we made them while he played with the dinosaur cut-outs.)
NYT digs into Ratzinger’s decision to retire, factoring in Vatican bank scandals, a criminal butler, conflict with the Legionaries of Christ, the terrible things he’s said about other religions, his embrace of a Holocaust-denying bishop, and what was that other thing? Oh yeah, the global outrage over the generations-long abetting of child rape. Yeah, I think stepping down would be easier.
Our own Michael De Dora explains why CFI opposed a bill in the US House that would have used taxpayer funds to bolster houses of worship (a bill that, surprise, passed overwhelmingly):
True religious freedom protects the conscience of the taxpayer by ensuring that his or her money is not used to support or advance religion with which he or she may disagree. It protects a Jewish person from funding a mosque and Islamic activities; it protects an evangelical Christian from funding a church and Catholic activities; it protects an atheist from funding any religious activity; and it protects us all from funding, say, the Westboro Baptist Church.
The Illinois State Senate might just pass gay marriage today for Valentine’s.
CSI’s Ben Radford at Yahoo News uses the tragedy and drama surrounding ex-LA cop Christopher Dorner as an example of the problem with relying on eyewitness accounts:
All of this has implications for psychology and eyewitness reliability; if you tell people what to look for, any face or physique that is even remotely similar (large black male, small blonde girl) can become a (false)-positive identification.
Sasquatch Genome Project finally releases its paper, and then everything falls apart. Sharon Hill has the whole mess.
I see the problem: The project didn’t take into account this Bigfoot toenail (Bigtoenail?) found in Arizona.
Congrats, godless folks. Via RNS:
Unchurched Americans have high expectations that they will have sex on Valentine’s Day. Lutherans, Presbyterians and other mainline Protestants? Not so much.
Kentucky pastor to the state of Tennessee: Give me back my poisonous snakes! (h/t Rob Boston)
Herb Silverman talks atheist-theist alliances at WaPo.
The Canadian government is providing $544,813 to Crossroads Christian Communications for its work in Uganda, an organization which is explicitly and virulently anti-gay.
There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and buy an old bus ad.
Hauntings can be very handy in lowering the value of one’s house.
Buzzfeed interviews Chris Stedman as only Buzzfeed can: “You might not yet be able to pick Chris Stedman out of a hipster lineup.”
You know you need this: A list of physicists on Twitter.
Quote of the Day
Thank you, About.com dinosaurs guide:
If we weigh all the available evidence about the Loch Ness Monster, the most logical conclusion is that it simply doesn’t exist (of course, tourists bring in a lot of money, so it’s in the interest of locals to perpetuate the myth). And even if you insist that the Loch Ness Monster is real, you can’t reasonably make the case that it’s a plesiosaur.
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y use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.
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