The Fear is Not There

September 28, 2016


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

Today in the week’s run-up to International Blasphemy Rights Day, we’re asking you to spread the word, share what you know and what you feel is important about the fight for free expression. The Gospel Herald reports on our efforts.

The head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, condemns the killing of Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, saying, “This crime constitutes a grave attack on freedom of expression and affects Jordanian society as a whole.” 

Sherif Mansour of the Committee to Protect Journalists highlights the case of Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mohamed, the Mauritanian blogger who has been in prison for 2 years after a blasphemy conviction. Mohamed wrote an appeal for help to the U.S. government:

I believe this in my heart; freedom will not be defeated. Hence, I direct my appeal to a country that has shown the world the meaning of humanity, the meaning of the beauty of life, and the meaning of freedom. 

Yesterday, Elon Musk unveiled the SpaceX plan to colonize Mars and tour the Solar System. He says he has a way to send 100-200 people at a time for an 80-day trip to Mars, where they will take advantage of equipment that will have already arrived in advance to begin building the colony, and the spaceship, which he might name Heart of Gold (bonus points for that), will be reusable to keep bringing more people every 2 years or so. He estimates a full “civilization” on Mars between 40 to 100 years into the project.

Pew releases new survey data showing that while about two thirds of Americans say religious objection shouldn’t be an excuse for employers to avoid providing contraceptive coverage, they are largely split down the middle on things like wedding services being allowed to refuse business from gay couples or transgender people being allowed to use the public restroom with which they identify. 

Data from the Planck spacecraft helps scientists more firmly establish that we are living in an isotropic universe, meaning it’s the same in all directions. The piece here in Ars Technica, by the way, is by Xaq Rzetelny, which is the greatest name I’ve ever seen. 

Harriet Hall is agog at a NYT Magazine article in favor of ear candling, what Hall calls “one of the stupidest and most laughable oddities in alternative medicine.” 

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte wants the death penalty reinstated because atheism makes people insufficiently scared of the force of the law. “Because the fear is not there.” I don’t even know anymore. 

Leigh Eric Schmidt at Religion & Politics looks at the history of “raising the atheist specter against presidential candidates.”

Curiosity Stream has a documentary series with Stephen Hawking, and he still asserts that alien visitation would mean curtains for we humanoids

The soccer team at Faith Christian School in Mesa, Arizona forfeits a game because two of the players on the opposing team were girls. And we all know that God is NOT stingy with the cooties.

Matt Young at revisits a psychic reading he’d gotten in 2011. “In hindsight, my reading was total and utter bullsh*t.”

I was at the pharmacy and I saw organic gummy bears and gummy worms. “These better have actual bears and worms in them.”

Quote of the Day

NYT’s ethicist Kwame Anthony Appiah answers a reader question about revealing their atheism to their religious family:

There’s something to be said for buffering candor with courtesy. Over a weekend, there’s nothing wrong with bowing your head during grace and going along with the religiosity. That’s the courtesy part. But — the candor part — if someone asks any of you about churchgoing, or whether you’ve been saved, you shouldn’t lie. You could try to fend off questions by saying that you’re sorry but you don’t like to discuss religion, or that your views are complicated. How you handle all this with your children in advance will help educate them about the ethics of the situation and prepare them to deal with these questions if they arise. 


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