One of the Most Wonderful Soldiers of Rationalism

August 20, 2013

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

I'm sorry to open the Heresy with some grisly news from India. Here's the IHEU:

It is with deep shock and sadness that we report the assassination this morning (Tuesday, 20 August) of one of India's most renowned rationalist and Humanist leaders, Dr. Narendra Dabholkar.

He was reportedly shot four times by two men on a motorbike this morning on Omkarweshwar bridge in Pune, Maharashtra state. He was reportedly taking his daily morning walk when he was assassinated, a route that may have been known to his attackers.

The murder comes days after the state government pledged to re-introduce an anti-superstition bill closely associated with Dabholkar's work and opposed by many rightwing and Hindu nationalist groups as "anti-Hindu." 

His friend, fellow persecuted rationalist Sanal Edamaruku, reacts:

He was one of the most wonderful soldiers of rationalism in Maharashtra because he was taking the movement down to the villages on one side and the legislature on the other . . . It is not the victims of superstition who are normally against rationalists but the exploiters who are using superstition and are using the gullibility of people, they are the ones against us.

Better news: NCSE has a new blog with a superhero motif: The Science League of America! 

Egyptian journalist Khaled Diab comes out as an atheist in Daily News Egypt, and calls for nonbelievers to "have their rights recognised in full" and "be regarded as equal citizens and not as targets for prosecution… or worse, persecution." 

Gov. Chris Christie of NJ signs into law a ban on "gay conversion" therapy for kids. 

Look out, Florida! Eddie Tabash is coming to your state to teach you a thing or two about secularism.  

Robyn Blumner at the Tampa Bay Times says Marco Rubio doesn't get that legislative prayer is not uniting, but divisive. 

Coinciding with new research on what's really going on with near-death experiences, we have Oliver Sacks' interview with Skeptical Inquirer on the variety of human hallucinations.

The CFI On Campus blog has a guest post from an anonymous student activist who is not an "out" atheist, but still runs a secular campus organization.

Bakersfield, CA politicians and officials sponsor a back-to-school prayer event

How about another Point of Inquiry classic episode? Get cozy snuggling with the fabric of the cosmos (the touch! the feel!), as expressed by Brian Greene

Damon Linker cautions progressives to curb their enthusiasm for Pope Francis. The pope says that faith is no excuse for violence.

Michael Schulson reviews an intelligent design-hawking book by "philosopher-huckster" and "creationist hack" Stephen C. Meyer. 

Pew holds a big panel discussion on the rise of the Nones, and posts the transcript.  

The Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy, based in East Texas, says that East Texas is where the majority of Bigfoot sightings are. For what that's worth. 

Mayor of Medjimurje, Croatia says the most rational explanation for a twisted, gnarly thing found in the dirt is ALIENS.

Gracy Howard expresses skepticism about the State Department's new emphasis on religious outreach. 

Billboards go up for godlessness for the 7 or 8 people who live in South Dakota! (Sorry.) 

Quote of the Day

Apple-focused blogger John Gruber is baffled by NYT's publishing of "claptrap" by T.H. Luhrmann on speaking in tongues:

 “We” don’t speak in tongues; religious nutjobs do, and they do it because they believe in superstitious nonsense. I’ll bet my bottom dollar that there is a high correlation between tongue-speakers and climate change deniers and creationist “science” school curriculum pushers — people who are doing real and genuine harm to our society and the planet.

Folks unaccustomed to him wading into these waters accuse him of religious hatred, to which he says: 

A lack of respect is not hatred; I do not respect superstitious nonsense. But this framing — equating lack of respect with hatred — is what keeps many from criticizing nonsensical religious views.    

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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul, Ed, Lauren, anyone who can fire them, or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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