Look Out for That Oort Cloud, It’s a Doozy

September 13, 2013

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

Happy Friday the 13th! To celebrate, watch this enormous rock as it barely misses the planet. Universe Today reports:

About 230 kilometers in size, 324 Bamberga reaches 0.81 astronomical units from the Earth this week. No other asteroid so large gets so close.

Meanwhile, Voyager 1, for real this time, or so they tell us, has actually, like, for sure, left the Solar System. Definitely. OR NOT. I dunno anymore.  

Suit challenging the "In God We Trust" motto on U.S. money is dismissed by a federal court. U.S. District Judge Harold Baer, Jr.:

[T]he Supreme Court has repeatedly assumed the motto's secular purpose and effect [and federal appeals courts] have found no constitutional violation in the motto's inclusion on currency.

Kyle Hill at CSI writes that if astrology's claims were true, "society would fracture":

[P]arents who want their children to become professional hockey players, mothers would calculate conception and birthing times in order to give their son or daughter a particular star sign. Pharmaceutical companies would make a killing developing the drugs that allowed mothers to delay and control births more effectively. Being born into a specific astrological sign would create grand social rifts. Different schools would spring up as they did for different religions in twentieth century Ireland. Potential mates would need not only good looks but also descendants who shared the same sign. Libras and Aries would be the modern Capulets and Montagues. 

Bill to create the position of U.S. Science Laureate is suddenly nixed by panicky conservatives

Take comfort, fellow narcissists! We might not just be jerks, but simply have defective mirror neurons

Poynter notes that daily newspapers are losing their religion beat reporters, but that other services are ascending to fill the gap.

Maryam Namazie is a winner of the Women in Public Life Awards for Journalist of the Year

This year will likely be the worst for measles cases in 17 years. CNN's Elizabeth Cohen:

The disease was thought to have been eradicated in 2000, but the numbers have recently crept back up, largely because of visitors from countries where measles is common and because of vaccine objectors within the United States.  

Jennifer Michael Hecht, as only she can, takes on the heartbreaking crisis of military suicides

Among fellow Catholics, Francis is pope-ular. I'm not sorry I just did that. 

David Gibson reminds us that the pope's kind words to atheists are not all that theological in their implications:

The pope’s letter itself makes clear that he is talking about forgiveness (and dialogue) more than salvation — and that’s hardly so controversial. 

Marcelo Gleiser takes a stab at choosing the ten biggest questions in science

Scott Gavura: "Confusion and misinformation abounds" in popular understanding about food allergies

The On Campus affiliate of the week is the Secular Students and Skeptics Society at CU Boulder.

Sadly, sexual exploitation is a common practice for fake-psychics defrauding clients. 

Comment is Free at The Guardian asks "Are atheists winning the war against religion?" I would imagine that, first of all, not all of us accept the premise of the question, but there you go. 

American Humanist Association files a lawsuit against a school district holding graduation in a church, with a ceremony full of godliness. 

Runner-Up Quote of the Day: Tim Challies at the Christian Post (because, I mean, come on):

[A]s much as [Christians] emphasize a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we tend to view Satan and his evil forces as an abstraction. We believe that we need to relate personally to the Savior but that we can relate impersonally to the enemy as if Jesus is a person while Satan is merely an idea. What the minister said yesterday was simply this: You need to have a personal relationship with Satan as well. 

Quote of the Day

Caroline Porco on Voyager's big goodbye:

Even today - especially today - as we celebrate our new official status as interstellar explorers, I feel as though that intrepid little vehicle is carrying a bit of me and you along with it, as it begins its never-ending travels across the galaxy and among the stars. And because of it, we, the inhabitants of Earth, have finally arrived at eternity's door.     

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