The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
Hurricane Harvey is called “an 800-year event,” pounding Texas, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes, with rainfall measured in feet rather than inches. FEMA’s William Long said, “We have not seen an event like this. You could not draw this forecast up. You could not dream this forecast up.” The onslaught will continue into this week, with the city of Houston (which I didn’t know was the country’s 4th-largest city) looking at several years of recovery ahead of it.
Here are ways you can donate to help with relief efforts.
Conor Lynch at Salon looks at the hop from Ron Paul-style libertarianism to Trumpian fascism that seems to be defining the “alt-right,” and corrects the racist misinterpretation of “survival of the fittest”:
The evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins — who is often wrongfully accused of advocating selfishness because of the title of his book “The Selfish Gene” — once stated in an interview that he is a “passionate anti-Darwinist when it involves the kind of society in which we want to live.” “A Darwinian state,” observed Dawkins, “would be a Fascist state.”
Joe Nickell mourns the passing of H. David Sox, a researcher who at one time advocated for the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin who had is mind changed through evidence.
Jonathan D. James notes the imbalance between Australia’s secular population (30% claiming no religion) and its representation in Parliament, where Christians make up 40% of the coalition government and 30% of Labor. He doesn’t know how good he’s got it.
And anyway, it looks like a solid majority of Australia’s Christians support legalizing same-sex marriage, as does a majority from faith groups generally. (An overwhelming 79% of the nonreligious support it.)
The EPA will not be helping out with the Climate Leadership Awards this year. Yeah. As one EPA spokesperson put it, “It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that we don’t plan to fund an awards ceremony on climate change.” It’s not.
Marina Koren at The Atlantic has Carolyn Porco recalling the excitement and wonder of the Voyager missions:
No matter how you measure it, whether you measure the amount of mass or you measure the number of bodies, most of our solar system exists out beyond the orbits of the asteroids. So we could not have claimed to know our own solar system until Voyager had toured the giant planets.
Courtney Canfield, who says she was fired from the Kansas Secretary of State’s office because she didn’t go to church when asked, loses her court case. And who is Kansas’s Secretary of State? Why it’s Kris Kobach, head of Trump’s
stop-minorities-from-voting election integrity task force.
This came up a few weeks ago and I missed it: Courts in Germany rule that Pastafarians don’t have the same right to post announcements of their services as other religions.
The Washington County School District in Florida is accused of forcing students to transcribe Bible chapters and of pushing Christian merchandise on students, among other violations of the First Amendment.
Lynda Waddington at the Iowa City Gazette talks up the wisdom for freethinking parents provided by Dale McGowan.
Paul Offit looks at a hateful 1916 American pseudoscience tract, The Passing of the Great Race, that so inspired Hitler so inspired Hitler that he “virtually plagiarized” the book.
Micah Schwartzman and Nelson Tebbe, writing at Slate, say that Charlottesville’s monuments to the Confederacy could be taken down on constitutional grounds:
…the government is prohibited from conveying messages that denigrate or demean racial or religious minorities. While private citizens may engage in hate speech under existing law, the government may not demean racial or religious minorities without running afoul of the guarantee of equal protection contained in the 14th Amendment.
Meanwhile, folks in North Huntingdon, PA are decorating their front yards with Ten Commandements signs. Alright then, you have fun with that.
Police in Chennai, India arrest five members of a certificate counterfeiting racket, giving false credentials to fake homeopaths. That’s right, being a “real” homeopath wasn’t fake enough for these guys. The doubled down on fake. (Wait, does being a fake homeopath make you a real doctor?)
And now for some fun close to (my) home(s): First, in the town of my late childhood, Galloway, NJ, a pair of fake psychics are arrested for scamming a senior citizen out of $147,700.
And coming to my current home state of Maine is the second annual International Cryptozoology Conference. Oh boy.
Quote of the Day:
Please enjoy this hug and what it means: The father of a 3-year-old victim of the Barcelona attack embraces Imam Driss Salym.
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