Pseudonymous Novelist, Pseudonymous Novelist, Pseudonymous Novelist

September 2, 2014

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

Aaaand we're back. My sincere thanks to Ed BeckLauren Becker, and Stef McGraw for holding down the heretical fort while I was away. They were great.

The skepto-atheosphere lost one of its giants. Physicist Vic Stenger, author of numerous books including God: The Failed Hypothesisdied last week at age 79. Here's part of what our boss Ron Lindsay had to say:

One thing I liked about Vic was his lack of pretense and posturing. He didn’t trim his arguments — or his beard — to please others. He was interested in determining the truth. Period. What others thought of his occasionally rumpled look or his refusal to soft-pedal his arguments was a matter of indifference to him. We’ll miss both his intellect and his intellectual integrity. 

More bad news: Raif Badawi's sentence of 10 years and 1000 lashes has been upheld by a Saudi appeals court

Ron Lindsay writes at the CFI blog that it's time to rethink how we do the Pledge of Allegiance, making the "God" part optional:

Oh, I’m aware that students who object to the Pledge cannot be compelled to take part. If they object to the Pledge, they have the option of standing or sitting at their desks quietly—and of being stigmatized as unpatriotic and un-American. The coercion to take part, the pressure on nonreligious students to say something they don’t believe, is undeniable. (Remember we’re talking about schoolchildren here.) 

Teaser!!! This week on Point of Inquiry we're going to have Sam Harris. We'll make a lot of noise about it once it's up.

The 5th Circuit says that your religious belief, no matter how inconvenient or seemingly trivial, can get you out of stuff as long as it's "sincerely believed." 

Turkey's president appoints as economic advisor a man who believes in murder by telekinesis. Seems legit. 

Mystery crater found in a town called "Circleville." COINCIDENCE?!?! 

Allie Bidwell at US News does an overview of voucher laws (and the challenges to them) in states across the country. 

Salzberg: No, FTLOFSM, power lines do not cause cancer

Here's a bunch of things that are way better explanations for what people are seeing at Loch Ness than a monster. Although the sturgeon is scary. 

Harriet Hall discusses the difficulty in persuading people out of false beliefs:

“I know what I saw.” No you don’t, your brain constructed an illusion.  

Carlos S. Moreno profiles James Woods (not the actor) an atheist candidate for Congress, at

It is time to end the prejudice that keeps qualified people without faith from considering a run for public office and keeps atheist officials from being honest about their beliefs. 

A middle school teacher in Maryland is "taken in for an emergency evaluation" when discovered to be a pseudonymous novelist (say that three times fast) whose fictional work includes school bomb threats.

A gift for conspiracy theorists: Google Translate was, for a brief shining moment, converting placeholder "lorem ipsum" faux Latin text into phrases using words like "China's Internet" and "NATO," and then it's not. 

Todd Starnes complains about FFRF trying to remove a religious plaque from a public school, which results in a wonderful correction:

Editor's note: An earlier version of this column stated “Ironically, the FFRF did not seem to object to the Latin words ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ meaning ‘Glory to God.’ Perhaps the atheists aren’t well-versed in Latin.” FFRF is indeed well-versed in Latin and cited their objections to the phrase in their original letter of complaint to the school. 

The Philippines' Department of Education takes "God" out of its mission statement, which upsets some bishops. 

Mark David Chapman, who murdered John Lennon, is all about Jesus now. So I'm sure we all feel better. 

Brian Merchant at Motherboard looks at the uptick in dowsing as California suffers its drought. 

If you're an atheist, you're likely to prefer your government stay out of the morality business, but do want it to provide some key services -- according to this chart.

Alejandro Borgo catches us up with the goings-on at CFI-Argentina

Apparently, atheism is a religion. Whoa I need to reconsider EVERYTHING. 

This one's for our marketing director and park ranger extraordinaire Lauren Becker: PRI profiles Betty Reid Soskin, who at 92 is the National Parks' oldest full-time ranger.  

Quote of the Day

Best Tumblr ever or best-best Tumbler ever? - Presenting Everyday Tyson, "Because every word the man has ever uttered must be quoted." So in that spirit, I choose:

I think the foot thing on your recliner is stuck.   
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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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