Freedom is a Gift from Odin

January 24, 2013

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

The Secular Census releases a report on women's experiences in the freethought movement, based on their survey data. From the conclusion:

Women seem to want groups that do more than criticize religion. They are attracted to positive messages and education. They'd like their groups to share their values and take positions that reflect those values. They'd like their interactions to be positive; they seem quite willing to abandon groups where they have had to deal with problem behavior, including unwanted advances. They could sometimes use some help with childcare.  

Of course, to really delve into this topic, you're going to want to register for the Women in Secularism 2 conference, happening in May in our nation's capital (presuming your nation is the United States). And now there are a whole ton of videos from last year's conference posted online. 

Oh, and there was something about women's experiences in the military that happened yesterday, too. Leon Panetta ended the ban on women in combat, which is a big deal. 

CFI's Sarah Kaiser's letter to the editor is published in the Buffalo News, where she supports the decision of a local school to stop a public school teacher from proselytizing to her students.

Michael Shermer in SciAm says that it's not the exclusive purview of conservatives to reject science when it opposes ideology:

The underlying current is “everything natural is good” and “everything unnatural is bad.” . . . Try having a conversation with a liberal progressive about GMOs—genetically modified organisms—in which the words “Monsanto” and “profit” are not dropped like syllogistic bombs.  

Rebecca Watson rebuts the idea that such resistance constitutes an equivalent "war on science":

A lot of people believing something inaccurate does not mean there’s a war – a war requires action, and conservatives are the people who are performing the actions: namely, introducing and sponsoring antievolution bills. While I’m sure that some Democrat must have introduced an antievolution bill, my Google skills have failed to turn one up. 

Luis Alfonso Gámez writes for CSICOP.org, but writes in Spanish, so I dunno what it's about, but it does have a picture with aliens and dinosaurs, which is cool. 

Remember Scalia's crazy hat at the inauguration? Turns out he was doing a little cosplay (first time I've ever used that word!) as Sir Thomas More. Because that totally fits the occasion.

Stephen Prothero talks about the role of religion in inaugurations at NPR. 

Syrian journalist Jasmine Roman writes that Islamism may be on the wane long-term, but secularism may or may not fill the void. 

Cari Tretina at Eastern Progress was unhappy with the president's speech:

Each reference to God he made isolated a non-worshiping God group and citizen. Some don’t believe God created Earth; some don’t believe God has a plan; some don’t believe in God. . . . How can our own president attempt to reunite our country when he excludes so many?

CSI fellow Dr. Mark Boslough on the way Benjamin Franklin, in a way, foresaw the threat of climate change

Ultra-orthodox Hasidic therapist (unlicensed) Nechemya Weberman gets 103 years in prison for 59 counts of child sexual abuse. 

Jane Roberts un-closets herself as an atheist in Free Inquiry

Barna Group looks at the views of "religious freedom" among various groups, and notes the "double standard" held by some Christian activists:

While these Christians are particularly concerned that religious freedoms are being eroded in this country, “they also want Judeo-Christians to dominate the culture,” said [Barna president David] Kinnamon. “They cannot have it both ways,” he said. “This does not mean putting Judeo-Christian values aside, but it will require a renegotiation of those values in the public square as America increasingly becomes a multi-faith nation.” 

UFO over Amherst, Mass. was probably a military plane

NIH sends 50 chimps kept for research purposes into retirement

An anti-blasphemy film, Ujalay Janoon Kay, debuts in Pakistan in order, according to the Pakistan News Service, "to build the original image of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), as well as to counter European caricatures and views of western personalities." 

Skeptics donate $13,000 to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in the name of cancer-quack Stanislaw Burzynski. 

Politico profiles the Secular Coalition for America. 

Only 7% of Britons think being Christian is an important part of British identity

The Supreme Court rejects Rob Sherman's appeal to stop Illinois's funding of a big ol' cross. 

Catholic World Report looks at pro-lifers who are also atheist

Julie Mankowski of the GWU Secular Society writes of her surprise at the backlash against her group's campaign on campus. 

Fake psychic in San Bernardino is charged with embezzeling $9000 from a client:

Uwanawich told the victim she had the spirit of a person who had drowned attached to her and if she gave her nine pennies, nine nickles [sic], nine dimes, nine quarters and $9,000.00 for nine days the spirit would be removed.

See what the future holds for you with Joe Nickell's latest horror-scope

Dogged UFO researcher George Fawcett dies at 83

Quote of the Day

Herb Silverman at WaPo on the inauguration:

I give two cheers to President Obama because he talked about treating people equally regardless of race, creed, gender, national origin, or sexual orientation. I liked his message, but not the justification for it-which was God. What would we think if our president had said “Freedom is a gift from Odin” or we must preserve our planet because it is “commanded by Gaia, the goddess of the Earth?”  

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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Comments:

#1 timothygmd on Thursday January 24, 2013 at 8:48am

To paraphrase “one must know one’s limitations”

Neurobiology suggests that religious and socio/political belief are not founded in conscious thought or reason. Rather, they arise from the deeper parts of what we are.

This being the case, one wonders at the prudence and sensibility of making atheism a central tenant of a freethought movement, especially as we have the same process that drives us to our different conclusions. An infusion of social politics or other similar issues seems ill especially ill advised.

It is more than sufficient to advocate a secular and free state, education with a focus on science, and structured and respectful thinking and speech. The last one is so that at least we can at least communicate broadly despite differences.

The current divisions in “the community” are especially unfortunate as they seem driven by pride and personality, for the most part, and magnified by common human foibles.

Lastly, I am pretty sure Odin had a spear “Gungnir”.

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