Rats on Mars

May 28, 2013

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

CFI chief Ron Lindsay and Hemant Mehta do a HuffPost Live panel on the (non)utility of prayer for folks in desperate need. (Hemant adds, “Go, Ron Lindsay, for remaining calm the whole time while I was about ready to flip over my laptop.”)

Meanwhile, Oklahoma Muslims mobilize to help their tornado-stricken neighbors. 

According to this map, chances are if you’re a human and an atheist, you probably live in China. Maybe Japan or France. 

Alton Lemon, whose Supreme Court case gave us the “Lemon test” which helped clarify the line between church and state, dies at 84

Oh, look: Seems the New York archdiocese has been paying for contraceptive health coverage for decades. What do you know. 

The Economist reports that journalistic scrutiny over sexual abuse is growing on the usually-opaque Catholic Church in Poland.  

No really, CSI’s own Ben Radford will be pitching a board game about zombies, vampires, and werewolves on Kickstarter: Undead Apocalypse.  

Ben reports at Yahoo News on the UFO summoning that wasn’t. 

Congressional clown Louie Gohmert of Texas becomes less and less funny, as he suggests that women be compelled to give birth to non-viable fetuses. He at least concedes that in such a situation, “the parents should certainly be consulted.” Well thanks.

Eric Zorn would rather no one invoke anything, religious or nonreligious, to open legislative sessions. 

Usama Hasan makes a case for Islamic moderation, though his arguments may induce eye-rolls from the Dawkins-Harris wing of the movement, for example:

The universal verses of the Koran (eg 49:13, “O humanity! We have created you from male and female and made you nations and tribes so that you may know each other: the most honoured of you with God are those most God-conscious: truly, God is Knowing, Wise”) promote full human equality and leave no place for slavery, misogyny, xenophobia or racism. However, other Koranic verses that may seem to accommodate slavery, discrimination against non-Muslims and women and even wife-beating (eg 4:34) were clearly specific for their time and always meant as temporary measures in a process of liberation. 

xkcd on how to kill cancer cells.

Rehana Kausar and Sobia Kamar become the first Muslim lesbian couple to wed in a civil ceremony in the UK, and they’re obviously now in danger. 

Vanessa Wolbrink at AU rounds up the sad state of legislative affairs in North Carolina

New scam in Nigeria gets women to pay big bucks for “miracle babies” from a truly horrific forced-birth “factory.” 

Daniel Dennett talks to Google about his bag of intellectual tricks in this video

Romeo Vitelli at HuffPo outlines the strategies and tactics of scammers, using the work of Anthont Pratkanis as a guide, citing specifically his talk at last year’s CSICon. (And you can read my interview with Pratkanis here.)

The Point of Inquiry blog gathers some highlights from Katha Pollitt’s appearance on the show last week. 

Conservative columnist Ezra Levant draws a stark conclusion from the murder of a soldier in London:

Multiculturalism doesn’t work. You cannot have two competing cultures in the same country. . . . This is war. Take it from the man with the meat cleaver, standing in the street. 

Staks Rosch at HuffPo on the pope’s declarations that atheists need not burn in Hell for being atheists: “Thanks for that, Pope Francis, but I wasn’t worried.” 

David Gibson answers the question: Did the pope commit heresy?

No. Francis was only affirming the doctrine that Christ redeemed the whole world. Whether people accept that belief is another matter. 


CFI’s John Shook considers the task of political movements that wish to be relevant to the oft-underestimated Millennials

USA Today publishes a super-scary op-ed co-written by a guy from the Family Research Council that warns, now that the gays can be in the Boy Scouts, the atheists may be next!!!

If you’re Muslim in Myanmar, and you want to have kids, you’re going to have to stop at two

Polygraph tests are looking more and more dubious. 

More killings of polio vaccination workers in Pakistan. 

Lincoln County High School in Kentucky still manages to squeeze Jesus into its graduation ceremony.  

Appeals court rejects free exercise of religion as a defense for marijuana charges. 

Apparently there have been some assassinations in the long history of Japan’s prime ministerial residence, and some think PM Shinzo Abe has not yet moved in for fear of ghosts

Blasphemy-accused Turkish pianist Fazil Say starts speaking out:

We have been going through a harsh period in Turkey, as those trying to gain power through the exploitation of religion oppress the people. It is worrisome for all of us as a particularly powerful ruling party makes politics over the religion and sets aside people. 

Speaking of blasphemy, Gizmodo has the science behind non-alcoholic beer.  

Look out for the R.O.U.P.H.s: Rodents Of Unusual Planetary Habitats

Quote of the Day 

Julia Fierro reflects on talking to one’s kids about God and death:

We used to debate whether it was worse to have faith and lose it, or to never know it at all. The debate is no longer relevant because it is clear that as we’ve grown as a couple, become parents twice-over, surpassed challenges in our careers, in our relationship, and in our children’s lives, we have become more faithless. But only in our faith in God. We’ve become more faithful to our belief in, and practice of, family. The conception and birth of a baby, and the moment-to-moment bustle specific to parenting young children, is a constant reminder that life is an act of faith. I wonder, sometimes, if I live each moment more fully than my parents because I believe this life, and every moment I have to stare at my children’s smiles, is all I will ever have.


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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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