Not the Lucky Charms Leprechauns

January 16, 2013

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

Folks, I'm telling you, the CFI universe is generating all sorts of high-quality content today. I'm not even kidding. Dig this. 

Deseret News focuses on the religious-liberty battles happening at the state level, and looks to our own Michael De Dora for perspective:

I try to tell our people, 'You might think that what's going on in Congress right now is the most important thing right now, but it's absolutely not. You need to pay attention to what's going on at the school board, city hall and state levels because that's where things are happening.

There's this really great post from one of our CFI On Campus folks, Seth Kurtenbach, on how IBM's Deep Blue may have passed the Turing Test as far back as 1997, at the expense of Garry Kasparov's sanity. 

CSI's Ben Radford asks skeptic-comic-musician George Hrab what he'd like to fling from a trebuchet:

1. Neil Peart's drum set. Not a very far flyer but a wondrous clang would ensue.

2. Glenn Beck. Not a very far flyer but a wondrous clang would ensue.

3. I would love to launch a smaller trebuchet just for the pure Magrittian joy. 

Man, some folks really, really want to get Bibles into kids' hands. This Florida group is doing a "passive distribution" which has been okayed by the school:

Passive distribution means the group cannot have any contact with students and can't even speak to them. The Bibles will be placed on an unattended table for distribution in a location where students normally congregate outside of class. The students won't face pressure to take one.

American Atheists doesn't like to be thus outdone, so they have their own idea:

We will be moving forward to distribute books written by Madalyn Murray O'Hair on atheism in the same manner. Our request will be presented to the school board asking for a specific date when we can place our books in the schools. We expect equal treatment for us; as well as any and all other religions that want to distribute their literature in the same manner. 

Bill McKibben (a recent Point of Inquiry guest) is doing all he can to make folks act on climate change right now. Here in Utne:

We could postpone healthcare reform a decade, and the cost would be terrible -- all the suffering not responded to over those 10 years. But when we returned to it, the problem would be about the same size. With climate change, unless we act fairly soon in response to the timetable set by physics, there’s not much reason to act at all.

The Atlantic gets an enormous amount of egg on its face for running a deceptive "advertorial" from one of its sponsors, the Church of Scientology. (Even my Flipboard app was tricked into thinking it was not an ad but a real article.)

George Dvorsky at io9 heralds the efforts of Louisiana's Zack Kopplin, a 19-year-old doing all he can to stop creationism's encroachment into public schools. (My friend Julie particularly liked the embedded video about "little letters." You'll see.) 

Stephen Law talks to Alan Lichtfield for the Malcontent's Gambit podcast on the subject of an "Evil God." 

Phil Plait: Fossils of microorganisms were not found in a Martian meteorite. 

NPR continues its series on the nones, this time look at the nonreligious ways of handling grief. Interesting bit: 

One theme is clear, [Prof. Joanne] Cacciatore says: Religious leaders are really bad at comforting people in grief. She surveyed more than 550 families, asking whom they found the most helpful during those first terrible days: first responders, doctors and nurses, social workers, psychologists, funeral directors or spiritual leaders. "And of all of those, the spiritual leaders actually came in last," she says. 

European anti-abortion crusaders begin a petition to have the European Parliament declare life's beginning with conception.

However, meanwhile, the European Court of Human Rights rules that one's religious beliefs can't be used to justify the violation of anti-discrimination laws.  

WaPo's Lisa Miller gets blunt with religious liberals:

I say, pointedly, the religious left needs to do a much better job of making its priorities and activities newsworthy. Kumbaya is not a story. Why can’t we all just get along is not a story.  

Funding drive for the in-production James Randi documentary An Honest Liar moves to Kickstarter

Sojourners' Jim Wallis says of the NRA's Wayne LaPierre's good-guy-with-a-gun remark:

[It is] morally mistaken, theologically dangerous and religiously repugnant. The world is not full of good and bad people, that’s not what the scripture teaches. We all have bad and good in us. 

Blurry thing appearing near the International Space Station is obviously aliens

These too, over Detroit. 

DC Episcopal priest Rev. Luis León to deliver inauguration benediction in place of anti-gay Giglio.

Bigfoot has a nest in Arizona. How do they know? They asked him for his papers. 

Sexual health nurse becomes dead-people-seeing psychic

In an editorial, the Toronto Star expresses worry over the uptick in alt-med use on children. 

Images passed off as genuine UFO sightings actually derive from an iPhone UFO image app

Headline of the day, from JTA: "Journalist experiences Chasidic life through eyes of a jujitsu-practicing atheist rabbi

Quote of the Day

Okay, I admit, I have no idea who Megan Fox is, but apparently she's a big celebrity, and she was interviewed by Esquireand she said silly things. So anyway, this is more of a "quote salad":

I have seen magical, crazy things happen [in church]. I've seen people be healed. Even now, in the church I go to, during Praise and Worship I could feel that I was maybe getting ready to speak in tongues, and I'd have to shut it off because I don't know what that church would do if I started screaming out in tongues in the back.

. . . 

It feels like a lot of energy coming through the top of your head — I'm going to sound like such a lunatic — and then your whole body is filled with this electric current. And you just start speaking, but you're not thinking because you have no idea what you're saying. Words are coming out of your mouth, and you can't control it. The idea is that it's a language that only God understands. It's the language that's spoken in heaven. It's called 'getting the Holy Ghost.'

. . . 

I feel like there's stuff literally buried there [in ancient ruins] and buried where the Maya were. I would like to uncover the secrets of the universe. In my fantasy.

. . . 

I believe in all of this stuff. I believe in all of it....I like believing. I believe in all of these Irish myths, like leprechauns. Not the pot of gold, not the Lucky Charms leprechauns. But maybe was there something in the traditional sense? I believe that this stuff came from somewhere other than people's imaginations....We should all believe in leprechauns. I'm a believer....

. . . 

I believe in aliens....Loch Ness monster — there's something to it....There's the Bell Witch...What distracts me from my reality is bigfoot. They are my celebrities.

Whew. 

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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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