Odin is Judging You

February 15, 2016


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

Richard Dawkins records a message to update everyone on his condition after a minor stroke last week. Even as he works to recover, he’s still displaying wit and insight. David Gibson at RNS looks at the discussion about whether believers should pray for Dawkins’ health. Some are apparently upset that folks would dare to do, and Hemant says, “To suggest [the prayers] were anything but an honest plea for his quick recovery suggests a bitterness that just isn’t there.”

As you are no doubt already aware, Justice Antonin Scalia is dead. There will be a great disturbance in the Force as a result.

Point of Inquiry went up early this week to post in time for Valentine’s Day, where Lindsay Beyerstein has a fun conversation with sex education activist Jaclyn Friedman

Also in podcast action – the Friendly Atheist Podcast interviews Lyz Liddell, the head honcho of the Reason Rally Coalition, the woman tasked with getting that whole shebang up and running.

As for the rest of the previous fortnight, check out the latest Cause & Effect newsletter

Just in case you were curious as to whether the Catholic Church would come around to reality and human decency in the midst of the Zika virus, well, nah:

After a period of saying little, bishops in Latin America are beginning to speak up and reassert the church’s opposition to birth control and abortion — positions that in Latin America are unpopular and often disregarded, even among Catholics. “Contraceptives are not a solution,” said Bishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, the secretary general of the National Council of Bishops of Brazil, and an auxiliary bishop of Brasília, in an interview. “There is not a single change in the church’s position.” 

Pope Fluffy meets Saint Death (sort of) after meeting the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, who I believe lives in the tower of Orthanc. This is the first meeting of pope and patriarch since the split 1000 years ago, before the elves sailed to Valinor.

According to a new survey by Wright State University and the NCSE, about 30% of middle and high school science teachers are telling kids bad information about the cause of climate change, and a majority underestimate the near-unanimity of the scientific consensus. 

A committee in the Virginia House of Representatives passes a bill that would make it okay to discriminate against gays, transgender folks, and yes, even those who have sex outside marriage. Because religious freedom. 

Mississippi, meanwhile, is considering a bill to get creationism and climate change denial into public school science classes. 

Kevin Drum worries about the Fox-News-ification of liberal rhetoric: “Facts and realism matter. I don’t want to see my side adopt the habits that we mock so mercilessly in conservatives.” 

CFI–Austin does a great job with Darwin Day, and this year was no exception. Their Facebook page has a bunch of great photos of the fun they had.  

In an uncharacteristically affirmative stance from the Bangladeshi government, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal says the murderers of the secularist bloggers killed last year “will never be spared.” 

TK Barger at the Toledo Blade reports on a data-mining study of the Bible and the Quran, which finds that the Old Testament is way more violent than the Quran. The New Testament also out-murders the Quran, but also has the most references to “love.” Oh, the name of the program that did the analysis? OdinText. Gods always be judging each other.

Also in data-mining, a program by Hitachi promises to be able to predict crimes by gathering information from social media, weather, statistics, maps, and other sources. I can’t believe the words “Minority Report” do not appear in this article.

Megan Garber at The Atlantic laments the use of the term “humanism” as a replacement for “feminism” and other -isms, both for how it minimizes the importance of those other positions, and how it co-opts the word from secular humanism and “atheism that isn’t jerky about it.”

Ted Cruz tells the Christian Broadcasting Network that he’s not running to be
 and that while he hopes atheists find Jesus (I know he’d hiding here somewhere), he’ll be “a President of everybody.” Oh good.

The mayor of Chino Valley in Arizona, Pastor (yes, pastor and mayor) Chris Marley, says secular humanism is unlawfully becoming the state religion, opens a council session with a Jesus prayer, which he said he wouldn’t do, and has police remove Rabbi Adele Plotkin, who protested the prayer practice.  

This dude who’s trying to get “In God We Trust” on government buildings slips on a proverbial banana peel when he tries to get the Cherokee Tribal Council to adopt the motto. It doesn’t go over well.  

Quote of the Day:

I know, I know, Neil deGrasse Tyson gets quoted a LOT. But you know what, the dude earns it:

I wonder what Cannibals & Aztecs would say, watching civilized people eat symbolic hearts of loved ones on Valentine’s Day.

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