Theologically Marooned

July 17, 2017

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

Kendrick Frazier, editor of CFI's Skeptical Inquirerpens an op-ed in the Albuquerque Journal on the Roswell UFO story, and how "established facts of the Roswell incident will of course never catch up with the charming myth."

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rules that exclusively Christian prayers by county commissioners in Rowan County, North Carolina is a violation of the Establishment Clause.

A U.S. District judge rules that grandparents count as close relatives for the purposes of those exempt from the Muslim-I-mean-travel-no-actually-Muslim ban.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (who looks like a crazed Larry the Cable Guy) says in an interview that not only are gays not being arrested and tortured in Chechnya, but that there are no gays in Chechnya at all:

This is nonsense. We don't have those kinds of people here. We don't have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada. Praise be to god. Take them far from us so we don't have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.  

Awful flashback! In 2007, Iran's then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was thought to have said that there were no gays in Iran, though his spokespeople clarified that he'd meant that there were not as many in Iran as in the U.S. So Kadyrov is potentially crazier than Ahmadinejad.

Beth Mole at Ars Technica lays out how Goop's they-go-high-we-go-low response to its critics serves as a blueprint for all hawkers of snake oil

16-year-old Sydney Sauer writes at Vox (nice work if you can get it, kid) that politicians don't act on climate change because they're apathetic about it, not because they're denialists. And they're apathetic about it because they're old. Wow! It took the wisdom of youth to crack this case. I'm assuming this will be turned into a grunge song at some point:

The people who lead our country won’t be alive 60 years from now to reap the consequences of their actions. It’s much easier to improve areas that they can measure and use for reelection, like unemployment and health care. Environmental issues, on the other hand, pose a measure of success that they won’t be able to experience or quantify.  

A statue of Clarence Darrow finally joins that of William Jennings Bryan before the courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee, where the two argued the landmark Scopes "monkey trial."

Stanford geneticist Stephen Montgomery launches a parody website, Yes or No Genomics, to highlight the problem of pseudoscientific consumer gene-testing services now available.

A panel of Christian scholars get together to talk about what's wrong with Rod Dreher's idea of the Benedict Option (where real Christians retreat from society so they don't have to be nice to the gays).  

Something called Warped Speed looks back on James Randi's exposing of televangelist Peter Popoff's tricks, noting his association with CFI's Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

A dude in Portland, Oregon tries to sideswipe a black Muslim couple's car, screaming slurs and threats at them. He's taken to court, and then bawls in front of TV cameras about how sorry he is.

Also today in Real Americans Doing Stuff to People's Cars, someone smashes a rock through a car windshield with an atheist sticker on it. The rock had written on it, "GOD IS GOOD." Good at what, throwing rocks really hard?

Graham Ambrose in the Denver Post profiles the Secular Hub, a place for "the theologically marooned" to have a kind of church experience.  

David Niose asks, rhetorically, whether it's a safer bet to just believe in God. And the answer is no, and that it's a silly question in the first place.

Meilan Solly at Smithsonian examines why religious freedom flourished in colonial America.  

There's a new documentary on the trend toward nonreligion in the U.S. called Leaving GodHere's a trailer

The classic sci-fi magazine Galaxy is now available free online. All of it. 

Wow, Jupiter's Great Red Spot is so beautiful, it's so great that Juno got those awesome pictures of it. Especially because it's going to go away forever and probably pretty soon. 

Quote of the Day:

Sam Kriss at The Outline looks at the various cultures' predictions of apocalypse that never came true, focusing on the Aztecs, and also hits us with this:

But aren’t the oceans boiling? As the air fills with carbon dioxide, the seas are turning to acid mire, a soup of plastic particles and dead coral, where the fish are all dying and only the tentacled things survive. Revelation, chapter eight: “A great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died.” Doesn’t Donald Trump, a leering Antichrist in bronzer and self-regard, glower from the front page of every paper? And as warships surround a North Korea bristling with missiles, could the sky not soon be full of dazzling, falling stars, and then empty forever? Isn’t the end of the world really, actually, genuinely nigh? Aren’t we watching it happen, broadcast from our TV screens, right now?  

Yes. Yes we are.
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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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