The Religious Freedom Panic Squad

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

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

This is looking kind of murky, but it looks like Russia's supreme court found problems with the sentences given to members of Pussy Riot, and they might get an earlier release. Meanwhile, member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, transferred to Siberia, will remain in a prison hospital until her term is up. 

Well look at that. Jupiter's moon Europa looks like it might have water-spurting geysers. No mention of pirate twin activity.*

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Colin Wilson: A Case Study in Mystery Mongering

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
December 13, 2013

 A brief look at the late Colin Wilson's work illustrates how misinformation about paranormal topics is perpetuated, and skeptical information is systematically ignored.

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Why “Access Points”?

Access Points with Timothy Binga
December 13, 2013

I was recently asked why I named this blog Access Points. This has to do with my background as a librarian and IT Manager here at the Center for Inquiry (CFI).

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Heliocentrism is So Second Millennium

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

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

Yet another "student religious-freedom" bill emerges, this time in Michigan. Reports Brian Smith:

Under the proposed language, instructors would not be permitted to grade a student's work differently based on religious content, and schools could not prevent students from participating in religious activities on campus before or after classes. Schools also would not be able to limit access to facilities to religious organizations if the facilities are made available to the general public. 

Holy moly, there's a sneaky-looking "documentary" coming next year that promotes, wait for it, geocentrism. And the trailer is full of scientists who I'm pretty damn sure are down with Copernicus. And, ugh, that's Captain Janeway at the beginning. (hat tip Rob Boston, who I'm kind of upset with for showing this to me) 

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The Best Pope of the Year!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 11, 2013

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

Time names Pope Cuddly as Person of the Year, choosing human interest over the genuine news impact of its runners-up. Oh, there I go again, being grouchy. But I definitely think he's the best pope of the year, hands down. (Meanwhile, the magazine also officially corrects its earlier assertion that Mr. Pope had "rejected church dogma.") 

I cannot wait to read this: Jennifer Michael Hecht, one of my heroes, pens a big piece in Politico's magazine on the plight of the open atheist in American politics. (A topic I cover at some length in my wee little mini-book here.)

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Bones of Contention

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
December 11, 2013

On Sunday, November 24, 2013, the Vatican, via Pope Francis, publicly unveiled for the first time several bone fragments that some have claimed are those of St. Peter himself. Retrieved in 1942 from beneath St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, they have since been bones of contention.

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Gardasil, Katie, Merck, and I

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
December 10, 2013

While Couric sifts through what remains of her journalistic credibility, I thought I'd share my brief HPV vaccine story. 

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Egomania and Cowardice

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 10, 2013

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

IHEU releases its 2013 Freedom of Thought Report on the state of persecution for atheists around the world.  

Lindsay Beyerstein conducts an extremely informative interview with Americans United's Barry Lynn on the latest Point of Inquiry. A great primer on the major church-state cases going on.

The Time magazine entry for Pope Francis's nomination for Person of the Year included the assertion that the pope "reject[s] church dogma and luxury." It has since been changed to omit "church dogma." 

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Less Canyon Than Itty-Bitty Crack

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
December 09, 2013

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

CFI-LA's Jim Underdown takes exception to the recent Time magazine assertion that there are "no atheists in the Grand Canyon," and what he has to say is quite lovely:

[O]verwhelmingly, there it was. That mighty, magnificent chasm 6 million years in the making is the physical embodiment of the word awesome. From the first glow of dawn until the long evening shadows engulf all but the rim, this colossal labyrinth of carved rock changes personalities hour-to-hour, season-to-season, eon-to-eon. It never shows the same face twice. 

Bill Nye pens (and records on video) an open letter to the president encouraging NASA's funding be held at $1.5 billion.

Satanists want a monument of their own alongside the Ten Commandments outside the Oklahoma statehouse, and the ACLU has their back.

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Grand Canyon Atheists? Dear Jeffrey Kluger at Time magazine…

Hollywood Reality Check with Jim Underdown
December 06, 2013

What cold-hearted atheist could gaze upon such a sight and not be filled with marvel and reverence – not for some vague deity created to explain ancient mysteries, but for the barely imaginable grandeur and power of nature? We could practically hear Darwin whispering in our ears to take note of condors soaring effortlessly while we plodded, of scorpions scurrying about while we slept, and of healthy plants that thrive on less than 10 inches of rain per year. We felt God could only be superfluous to such scenery, and would unnecessarily complicate the story behind of this massive mechanism at work.

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