The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Yuri Milner, Stephen Hawking, Ann Druyan, and a bunch of other smart folks are going to send a swarm of baby-probes, pushed by lasers, to Alpha Centauri within a generation. Said Hawking, “Today we commit to the next great leap in the cosmos, because we are human and our nature is to fly.”
People around the world claim to hear “the Hum,” a mysterious auditory phenomenon that might be very low frequency waves, or might be entirely imagined. Colin Dickey at The New Republic takes a long look at what’s going on.
A new report from Pew shows that very religious Americans are generally more content and more connected to family than the less-religious. But they are also just as lazy when it comes to exercise, and I’m glad I have that in common with them.
CFI’s Michael De Dora appears in this Fox 29 piece about a coming “religious freedom” rally, but he is uncredited and, much to my surprise, bearded.
Agree or not, this is straight-up fascinating. A federal court in Nebraska rules that Pastafarianism cannot be considered a religion under the law:
This is not a question of theology: it is a matter of basic reading comprehension. The FSM Gospel is plainly a work of satire, meant to entertain while making a pointed political statement. To read it as religious doctrine would be little different from grounding a “religious exercise” on any other work of fiction….. Of course, there are those who contend … that the Bible or the Koran are just as fictional as those books. It is not always an easy line to draw. But there must be a line beyond which a practice is not “religious” simply because a plaintiff labels it as such. The Court concludes that FSMism is on the far side of that line.
The Advocacy Days of the Reason Rally 2016 now have a schedule. Go see.
Turkey’s fun-loving and not-at-all-crazy president Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants strip citizenship from those deemed to be “supporting” terrorism, including activists or journalists, who would themselves be deemed “terrorists” if so charged or accused. So, you know, good luck, Turkish journalists.
Robert Dear, the Planned Parenthood shooter, told police when originally arrested that he dreamed he’d be “met in Heaven by aborted fetuses wanting to thank him for saving unborn babies” and that President Obama is the Antichrist.
A 60-year-old Christian woman is caned in Indonesia for selling alcohol, which is a crime under sharia, and only recently became applicable to non-Muslims in the country.
Marcia Angell, a former editor in chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, writes at the Boston Globe that a big problem with financial conflicts of interest in medical research is that even when intentions are 100% good, the reader has no way of knowing whether the researchers were unduly influenced.
Something I didn’t know anything about before: Franklin Pierce,our 14th president, lost his son in a train accident shortly after being elected, and refused to take his oath of office on a Bible, thinking God was angry with him.
Franklin Graham holds a rally at Arkansas’ state capitol, and decries the “godlessness” of various state governments, which doesn’t seem to me to comport with reality, but whatever. He also says:
Secularism and communism are the same thing. They are both godless. We have every right to speak up; we have every right to take our faith into the halls of government.
North Carolina governor and potty-inspector Pat McCrory makes some tepid moves to restore some workplace anti-bias measures for state employees, and asks the legislature to change one part of the new law that forbids discrimination lawsuits in state court.
The First Circuit court says the Obergefell decision same-sex marriage decision does apply to Puerto Rico.
17-year-old Scott Moore wants to make some noise about compulsory religious education in Northern Ireland, and get forced prayer out of schools.
In the 1990s, some folks thought some kids had psychic powers, and referred to them as “Indigo children.” VICE‘s Gavin Haynes catches up with them today.
An underwater robot thing explores Loch Ness and finds Nessie! Well, it finds a prop that played Nessie in a 1930s Sherlock Holmes movie.
Quote of the Day:
This whole article is a must-read: In an editorial titled “Not Helping,” The Dhaka Tribune responds to Bangladesh’s home minister, who had said the murder of Nazimuddin Samad warranted a look into whether Samad wrote “objectionable things on blogs”:
No, no, no.
It is almost impossible to quantify how wrong-headed and self-defeating this approach is.
The point is not what Nazim may or may not have written. The point is that he has been slaughtered in public in cold blood.
This is a law and order issue. The government cannot have a
ssassins roaming the streets meting out medieval justice to whoever they think deserves it.
It is as simple as that.
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