I’m a Fennel Passionflower Slippery Elm!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 24, 2014

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

On Friday, we put out the second issue ever of Cause & Effect, our official newsletter, and lemme tell you, it looks way better. Among the top news items in C&E was the release of CFI's new Hobby Lobby resource page, designed to clear up the confusion and double-speak surrounding the big Supreme Court case, which is hearing oral arguments tomorrow. Check it out

Reynolds Holding at Reuters notes that in trying to appease the God of Christianity, Hobby Lobby may be offending the god of the almighty buck

12 ounces of liquid cocaine are intercepted inside 14 condoms...headed for the Vatican

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Erdoğan the Eradicator

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 21, 2014

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

We were pretty aghast at the House's overwhelming passage of HR 1814, the get-out-of-the-healthcare-law-free bill for the religious. Well now it looks like the Senate might actually take it up (which we used to think was never going to happen), so we need you to tell your senators to send it back to the pits of despair from whence it came.

Turkey bans Twitter, and the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, weirdly vows to "eradicate" it. Good luck with that, pal. #yolo

Fred Phelps is really most sincerely dead.

His estranged son Nate Phelps of CFI-Calgary posts a statement:

I ask this of everyone — let his death mean something. Let every mention of his name and of his church be a constant reminder of the tremendous good we are all capable of doing in our communities. 

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Moss the Immortal

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 20, 2014

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

I just found this video thanks to Brook Wilensky-Lanford at Religion Dispatches, in what she calls a "Carl Sagan meets Ed McMahon moment," where Assistant Professor Chao-Lin Ku reveals to Dr. Andrei Dmitriyevich Linde that the new findings about the Big Bang support Dr. Linde's predictions. It's a beautiful moment. He can't even believe it:

Let us hope it is not a trick! I always leave with this feeling...What if I am tricked? What if I believe in this just because it is beautiful? 

It happened months ago at a CFI-Michigan event, but thanks to Cosmos, HuffPo and others are rediscovering the amazing exchange between Neil deGrasse Tyson and a 9-year-old boy about death-by-asteroid. Relive the magic.

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Death Clusters from Space!

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 19, 2014

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

We have a lot of work to do: Half of Americans believe in at least one of five proffered medical conspiracy theories. Most depressing, 37% "fully agreed that U.S. regulators are suppressing access to natural cures" and "less than a third were willing to say they actively disagreed with the theory." 20% think vaccines cause autism.

Meanwhile, 42% of Americans think climate change is "generally exaggerated," according to Gallup.  

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Steven Seagal vs. Stephen Fry vs. Steve Jobs

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 18, 2014

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

Even if you don't totally understand it (and I don't), this is huge: Scientists detect gravitational waves ("ripples in the fabric of space-time") from the literal beginning of time, pretty much nailing down the Big Bang. Nature wants to help us understand this big deal.

As promised, I opined at Friendly Atheist on how to respond to Fred Phelps' imminent demise: Do nothing. (Except be nice to each other, but have Phelps have nothing to do with it.)

HuffPost Live had me on later in the day to talk about this, with two guys who are way more important than me: HuffPo's own Paul Raushenbush and Frank Schaeffer. Point of Inquiry's Josh Zepps hosted. 

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Warner’s Safe Cures

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
March 18, 2014

Familiar to collectors of antique bottles, especially those for patent medicines, is the distinctive flask-shaped, amber-colored bottle for Warner’s Safe Kidney & Liver Cure (about 9 3/4’’ tall; see photo). Interestingly, given the word safe in its name, such bottles are embossed with the design of a strongbox, but we are getting ahead of an interesting story about a multiple-quack-medicine empire. Here it is—focusing in turn on each word of the company’s name, Warner’s Safe Cure Company.

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Ingersoll Museum Renovation: Progress Report

Advocatus Diaboli with Tom Flynn
March 18, 2014

It's been a vicious winter; nonetheless progress continues toward the installation of the all-new T. M. Scruggs Museum Interior. Herewith, some progress photos.

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The Measles of Mankind

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 17, 2014

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

The latest Free Inquiry features a poignant and tough review by Tom Flynn of Jennifer Michael Hecht's anti-suicide book Stay. Calling it “marvelously written,” Tom says it “excludes individuals who make clear-eyed decisions to end their lives in response to calamities whose aftermath they prefer not to experience.”

Editor of The American Rationalist, S.T. Joshi, and his prolific work on atheism, are profiled in the New York Times.

NYT also covers an experimental "God-optional" synagogue.

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“Question of Astral Projection of Non-Believer”

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper with Benjamin Radford
March 14, 2014

I recently got the following email with the subject line, "Question of Astral Projection of Non-Believer." 

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10,000 Hours Down the Drain

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 14, 2014

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

There's a great article about CFI's Long Island branch in the Plainview-Old Bethpage Herald. Treasurer Phil Pollack says:

This is a philosophy and discussion group. We always have really interesting topics, and we also have a book club discussion group as well. We talk about politics, science, real history, and other aspects of the world in which we live. It’s a fascinating group of people, and we invite anyone who’s interested in experiencing our discussions to come down and try it out.

Pew has done a lot of number crunching on various religious identification surveys, and finds that while "nones" are in a three-way tie with Evangelicals and Catholics in the U.S., many of the nones are "unattached believers," theists but not under any particular sect's sway. That said, a key takeaway from this article from Cathy Lynn Grossman is that even those "unattached believers" are likely "unreachable" by any church. 

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