Shock and Grief

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 19, 2013

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

I am reading the news this morning with my jaw hanging open, as I imagine many of you are (I mean, a freaking grenade fight???). At the time of my writing, we know that the suspects are Chechen brothers, that they are white (literally Caucasians), that one was killed in the firefight with police, and another is reportedly surrounded in Watertown. It's almost unbelievable. 

For the purposes of this blog, I thought it might be useful to lend some clarity to the role religion might be playing in the suspects' motives. According to this 2004 interview at BeliefNet with Brian Glynn Williams, an Islamic historian, Chechen Islam, even when radicalized, is not the kind of stereotypical motivation for violence we often default to in our imaginations. . . 

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Scriptural Basis for Self-Serving Gutlessness

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 18, 2013

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

This morning we announced that atheist groups around the world, led by CFI, the International Humanist and Ethical Union, American Atheists, and CFI-Canada, will take part in protests against the persecution of atheists and other dissenters in Bangladesh. Right now there are planned protests in New York, DC, London, Ottawa, and Calgary. We need the freethought community to get behind this in force, to coordinate additional demonstrations in more cities in more countries. Here's where information will be kept up to date on any related events, and when tweeting about this, include the hashtag #DefendDissent.

Bangladesh's own BDNews24 reports on CFI's call to the State Department to put pressure on the Bangladeshi government. 

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The Rise of the Post-Christians

It’s Only Natural with John Shook
April 17, 2013

It is still said that America is a Christian nation. Really?

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Pagans, Bitcoins, and Microbes

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 17, 2013

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

Dave Weigel lines up the reasons why Boston conspiracy theorists may have "a tough road ahead" toward credibility. 

Someone with a little foresight snagged the bostonmarathonconspiracy.com domain, and did something useful with it.  

Muslim groups are scrambling to show their solidarity with victims and their revulsion at the attack. 

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When Seculars Get Sectarian

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
April 16, 2013

Making the rounds on Facebook is an announcement that yet another humanist/atheist charity has started a fund drive for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings. It's a fine cause, but I wonder whether its organizers have considered the implications when nonbelievers -- normally quick to revile sectarianism when religious people indulge in it -- conduct a blatantly sectarian appeal for aid. Perhaps it's overdue to review the full meaning of the word "secular."

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Find Out a Little About Everything

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 16, 2013

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

Following the horror of yesterday's explosions in Boston, of course all those affected -- and all those who will be affected -- are in our thoughts, and have our deepest condolences; for the loss, the pain, and the shock and fear so many will now feel. Here's some information on what folks can do to help out. One thing was heartening: seeing so many people on Twitter (skeptics and otherwise) steadfastly insisting that when we talk about who might be responsible and why, we rely on evidence and facts rather than suspicions and assumptions.

Hemant has statements from local freethought groups

Of course, it took about five seconds for absurd conspiracies to get their moment in the spotlight. 

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The Story of “Rattlesnake Pete”

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
April 15, 2013

Among the old-time snake hunters and peddlers of rattlesnake oil was Peter “Rattlesnake Pete” Gruber (1858–1932) (see first photo). As related in Arch Merrill’s Shadows on the Wall (1952), Pete was born in Oil City, Pennsylvania, the eldest of a pioneer oil refiner’s nine children. He would later claim, that, while a boy hiking in the local hills, he had come upon an old Indian woman from the Seneca reservation. Dragging behind her on a rope a big dead rattlesnake, she explained to Pete how she would extract the fatty oil, which was used to treat rheumatism, stiff joints, even earache—among other afflictions. Impressed by the boy’s interest, she even gave him the snake’s skin. Pete later learned from the Indians how to capture the rattlers, and from the medicine men how to use them for various folk remedies.

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The Paratroopers of God’s Army

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 15, 2013

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

Turkish pianist Fazil Say gets a suspended jail term for blasphemy, following a series of tweets last year the court considered to be "insulting religious values of a part of the population." 

Pope Francis appoints a commission of cardinals to advise on bureaucratic reform for the Vatican. Speaking of which, some Vatican representatives will be holding a "dialogue" with nonbelievers in Mexico.

Camp Inquiry's Karen Strachan is among the guests on the Skeptical Connections podcast. 

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Trance: Trainwreck from a Trainspotting Director

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
April 14, 2013

Trance is not inherently a bad movie; it’s just one of those movies where the longer it went on, the less I cared who lived, who died, or whether anyone found that damned painting. 

 

 

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Payot on a Plane

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
April 12, 2013

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

CFI sent out an action alert yesterday on behalf of the persecuted atheists in Bangladesh. We're formally asking the State Department to weigh in, and start to put pressure on the Bangladeshi government. You can add your voice here. Yesterday we learned that the atheist bloggers already arrested have been "grilled" for seven days, and a hearing for them has been postponed.

Two more young people in Bangladesh are arrested for blasphemy in the mean time, perpetrated on Facebook. 

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