The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Happy “Loyalty Day,” you faithless bunch of subversives.
The CSICon 2017 website is up, and you can register now to join us in Vegas.
At Reasonable Talk‘s “season finale,” we’ve got Katha Pollitt in conversation with Annie Laurie Gaylor at Women in Secularism 4 on the topic of abortion rights.
Nicholas Campion at The Conversation tries to figure out how many people actually believe in the claims of astrology, and learns a lesson about how to ask questions about belief:
What became clear from all my surveys is that when we ask questions about personal experience, meaning and behaviour – such as valuing an astrologer’s advice or finding out partners’ signs – positive responses are about twice as high, if not more, than when we ask for statements of objective fact (such as “does astrology make accurate forecasts?”).
Of the March for Science, Stuart Vyse says, “To me, it felt like a worldwide mass movement for something really nerdy and important.”
Dan Vergano reports that the big to-do over the discovery of a possible human presence in North America 130,000 years ago might be way, way off.
Rep. Randy Weber weeps as he asks God’s forgiveness for marriage equality at a prayer event at the Capitol.
Looking at the new Pew data on religious belief and education levels, NPR’s Tom Gjelten notes that because the U.S. has no state religion, “religious leaders have to ‘hustle’ more” to attract believers. That they do.
The New York Times, apparently feeling like it should be a little more like Trump’s EPA, brings aboard Bret Stephens as an op-ed columnist, and in his first piece for the paper, he says that since people who have been certain about things in the past have sometimes been wrong, climate change worries are overblown. Q.E.D.
Joe Romm shows the factual errors in Stephens’ column, and chastises NYT for not doing as they promised, and doing the fact-checking themselves.
Pamela Villarreal at Newsday says churches should stay tax-exempt because figuring out how to tax them would be hard. Aw.
Council on American-Islamic Relations says the religious profiling of Muslims coming into the country has increased by 1035% from the previous year.
Along with a purge of about 4000 public officials, Recep Tayyip Erdogan bans Wikipedia in Turkey. Oh, and bans TV dating shows. Not kidding!
Neil deGrasse Tyson explains his lack of belief in a creator on CBS Sunday Morning.
Hyland’s homeopathic teething tablets are now recalled in Australia.
A Facebook group, Bangladesh Against Homophobia, posts a video tribute to Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy.
And because everything is terrible, 8000 people in Pakistan — including government and religious leaders — hold a rally in support of the people accused of murdering Mashal Khan over blasphemy allegations. Reports the Express Tribune, “They claim that the murder suspects were true Muslims for ‘fulfilling their religious duties’, and demanded that they be set free.”
Scott Simon of NPR talks to Gary Campbell, the guy who runs the “official” Loch Ness Monster sightings registry. Says Campbell, “And as we say here, generally, if you don’t see something, a good glass of whiskey probably helps you on the way.” Oh I bet it does.
Mark Jones, in a letter to the Fresno Bee, objects to the idea of mounting “In God We Trust” on the wall of the city council chambers, writing, “To us [nonbelievers], it would be just as meaningful to see ‘Guided By Yetis’ in large gold letters.”
Patriarch Bartholomew I, head of the Orthodox Church, says upticks in fundamentalism are a response to secular relativism. But at least he recognized fundamentalism’s dangers:
Indeed, fundamentalism often sees itself threatened or even persecuted by relativism, while the last denies the existence of truth, fundamentalism considers that its own truth is unique, and must therefore be imposed over the others, thus making impossible for religion to serve as a bridge between human beings
Quote of the Day:
Michael De Dora posted this quote from Bertrand Russell in 1960, answering a question about the “source” of his passion for skepticism:
I do not think that passions have any source. If you saw a child drowning, you would try to save it and would not wait for some -ism to persuade you that it was worth saving. I see the human race drowning and have an equally direct impulse to save it. There is no need to justify this impulse, any more than to justify eating when one is hungry. The -isms by which people attempt to justify their impulses are, in fact, products of the impulses that they pretend to justify.
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