Almost Literally Hungry for Brains

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 31, 2014

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

Barbara Ehrenreich (who will be at Women in Secularism III) wants you to know she's still totally an atheist, despite her new memoir that includes childhood experiences "way out of the reach of science."   

James Hansen, the man who really put the crisis of global warming on the national radar, says civilization itself is screwed if Canada taps into its tar sands for oil.

Massimo Polidoro at Skeptical Inquirer tells how hucksters easily manipulate vulnerable people with belief in the power of the "evil eye." 

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Smiling Joe Has His Own Celestial Body

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 28, 2014

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

Hey, folks, I was rather ill yesterday with something called "influenza," and I'm frankly not feeling much better today, but I couldn't let skepto-atheism writhe in painful, linkless ignorance for another day, so here's a two-day catchup of the Heresy. You are so welcome. 

George Ongere of CFI-Kenya writes at the CFI blog about his own embrace of social justice through humanism, and the fantastic work being done on the ground.

In Pakistan, Sawan Masih is sentenced to death for blasphemy, for allegedly insulting Mohammed. It's all so awful. From the Reuters report by Mubasher Bukhari:

The law does not require evidence to be presented in court and there are no penalties for false allegations. Courts often hesitate to hear evidence, fearful that reproducing it will also be considered blasphemous. Activists who want to reform the law say it is often abused by those seeking to grab money or property from the accused. 

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A Brief Look at Phrenology

Investigative Briefs with Joe Nickell
March 26, 2014

Phrenology is a form of character reading (like graphology and physiognomy) as supposedly revealed by the individual contours of the subject’s head. The term was introduced in 1815 to refer to a “physiognomical system” of two German doctors, Franz Joseph Gall and John Spurzheim, who gave phrenological readings and lectured on the subject in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Phrenology flourished during the latter century due to the publishing and merchandizing efforts of the Fowler brothers, Orson S. and Lorenzo N., together with their brother-in-law, Samuel R. Wells. The company, Fowler & Wells, was headquartered in New York City with a branch in Philadelphia.

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Using Humanism to Help the Less Fortunate in Africa

by Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
March 26, 2014

This is a special guest post by George Ongere of CFI-Kenya

When I first embraced a humanistic life stance, I believed that it was only a personal matter and that it would not compel me to trouble myself to engage in activities of social justice. Most people who have embraced a secular life stance, and mostly atheists, believe that having abandoned religion, and then trying to involve themselves with activities like helping the poor, assisting orphans and helping homeless widows, is like trying to mimic religion. Hence when one abandons the belief in God, gods, Satan, etc., it does not compel them to be involved in matters of social justice. However, secular humanism allows one to adhere to certain kinds of principles, and as such, going to the extent of working for social justice is not a problem with those who embrace secular humanism.

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We Make Gods of Ourselves

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 26, 2014

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

The Hobby Lobby case has now been argued before the justices of the Supreme Court (see our primer on the case here), and our boss Ron Lindsay saw it all go down. His take? A little grim:

[Hobby Lobby] wants the protections granted to religious beliefs while also carrying out for-profit commercial activity with the legal advantages granted to corporations. Sadly, a majority of the Court appears prepared to accept Hobby Lobby’s claim, and with it a radical restructuring of the relationship between religion and government. 

Adam Liptak at the Times agrees that the justices seemed to favor Hobby Lobby's argument.

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God, Incorporated: Observations on the Hobby Lobby Argument

No Faith Value with Ronald A. Lindsay
March 25, 2014

Today, I attended the Supreme Court argument in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores. The case is a complex one, with several distinct issues that need to be resolved. In this post, I will briefly address one of those issues, namely whether a for-profit corporation can claim a religious identity and an entitlement to an exemption under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

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Noah, Drunk and Naked

The Morning Heresy with Paul the Morning Heretic
March 25, 2014

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

Happy Hobby Lobby Day! Or not. The Supreme Court hears oral arguments today in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.and we have a handy primer for you to help you cut through the confusion (and to see why we think Hobby Lobby is dead wrong).

The spotlight in now on the Justices. Robert Barnes at WaPo looks at the religious makeup of the Court, while Sahil Kapur at TPM notes that Scalia has taken a pretty firm stance in the past that would seem to contradict Hobby Lobby's case:

In 1990, Scalia wrote the majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, concluding that the First Amendment "does not require" the government to grant "religious exemptions" from generally applicable laws or civic obligations. The case was brought by two men in Oregon who sued the state for denying them unemployment benefits after they were fired from their jobs for ingesting peyote, which they said they did because of their Native American religious beliefs.

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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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