Putting the Levity in Leviticus!

November 18, 2013

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

Monday. Monday, Monday, Monday. So much news to catch up on for Monday's Heresies. Maybe I need to do a weekend edition. Ha! No. 

At Skepticon, American Atheists' Dave Muscato is threatened with a gun. He gives all the details he can here, but he's fine, and totally unharmed, for which the Morning Heretic is very, very glad. (I get all trembly and chokey-uppy just typing this.)

Last week, Neil deGrasse Tyson appeared at an event sponsored in part by CFI-Michigan, and here's an awesome exchange between the man himself and a super-smart 9-year-old about asteroid deflection. 

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Andy Kaufman Was Bigfoot the Whole Time!

November 15, 2013

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

Quack cancer doctor Stanislaw Burzynski gets front-page treatment in USA Today, with a series of stories on his practice under the banner "Science or Snake Oil?" 

Brantley Hargrove at the Dallas Observer does a long piece on the saga that is the Texas battle over evolution in textbooks. 

Former GOP science policy adviser Mischa Fisher writes in The Atlantic that the Republican Party is getting a bad rap as being anti-science. I take to Friendly Atheist to say, meh, I'm not so sure about that, but I do concede one point:

It’s possible that by shouting from the hilltops that Republicans hate science and they Democrats love it (or, more specifically, that secular humanist atheist liberal poindexter college professor elitists love science), it becomes more and more toxic for Republican leaders to embrace, lest they look like the aforementioned pinkos to their base. 

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Pathetic Little Pamphlet

November 14, 2013

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

Ron Lindsay reconsiders the notion that Greece v. Galloway plaintiffs' attorney Doug Laycock threw atheists under the bus in his argument before SCOTUS. Not so much thrown, says Ron, but "bumped." Still, the bus.

CFI joins a coalition of 125 civil rights, religious, and community-based organizations to ask the DOJ to investigate Muslim profiling by the NYPD.

Tim Maudlin at Aeon: Though the universe seems fine-tuned, we are mere accidents. 

Video of the excellent presentation from Maryam Namazie is now up at the Women in Secularism website.  

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I Say We Will Have No More Marriages (When We’re Dead)

November 13, 2013

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

This is very cool. The Library of Congress officially opens the Seth MacFarlane Collection of the Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan Archive

Please make sure you're in a stable psychological place before you look at this: Christopher Ketcham at Vice reports on the horrifying "child-rape assembly line" within ultra-Orthodox Judaism. Sam Harris on Twitter suggests, "Perhaps we should send SEAL Team 6 into Brooklyn."

Pope: I say we will have no more marriages. In the afterlife. (I wonder if those who are married already shall keep as they are.)

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Repeat Our Lives in the Sky

November 12, 2013

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

CFI, through its SHARE program, asks that you donate to help the millions affected by the Typhoon Haiyan.

Lindsay Beyerstein gets her first go-around as a new host of Point of Inquiryinterviewing Katherine Stewart at the CFI Summit on fundamentalists' attempts to infiltrate public schools.  

IHEU sounds the moral alarm over a campaign in Nigeria, "Witches on the Run." 

The son of Sen. James Inhofe, Dr. Perry Inhofe, dies in a plane crash

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Laundry Instead of Faith

November 11, 2013

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

If you see any CFI folks today who seem to be emitting a particularly intense glow of pride today, it might be because of this: Beyond Faith is a support group for young ex-Christians, run from CFI-NYC by volunteers Dena Roth and Geoffrey Golia, and it just got the attention it deserves from a big Newsweek story out this morning by Katie J.M. Baker. Read it, and have a better Monday as a result. Two good quotes I pulled (of many):

"The group just makes me feel less screwed up," [22-year-old Jacob] Link says. "It seems like when you're done with religion, you should be able to move on; but, in reality, when you've built your entire life around it during your developmental years, you can't just let it go." . . . 

"I can't even describe how refreshing the first meeting was, how invigorating," says [24-year-old Renato] Rengifo, who started attending meetings earlier this year. "I needed people to say, 'I understand how pathetic you feel right now trapped in a mindset that you know you want to get away from but you can't.'" Rengifo says Beyond Faith's support helped him work up the courage to move out, and that his relationship with his parents was slowly improving: "Now I can talk to my parents about laundry instead of faith."

The next meeting of Beyond Faith is December 2. 

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Our Visceral Distaste is Not to Be Taken Lightly

November 08, 2013

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

CFI chief Ron Lindsay looks at the transcript of the oral arguments in the SCOTUS prayer case Greece v. Galloway, and comes away feeling that atheists were "thrown under the bus" by plaintiffs' attorney Douglas Laycock:

Laycock, knowing that he could probably not get a Court majority to eliminate the prayer practice entirely, decided to take the angle that you only have to please the majority of people. Only the majority of people have to be treated equally. Oh, great, so the Establishment Clause was intended not to protect minority rights, but rather the sentiments of the majority. You know, all these years, I had that backward, Doug. Thanks for straightening me out. 

Sarah Posner reports that George W. Bush will keynote a fundraiser for the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, a group that wants to convert Jews in order to bring about the return of Jesus. She notes the reaction of Commentary magazine, which warns, "it must be understood that the visceral distaste that the overwhelming majority of Jews have for the Messianics is not to be taken lightly." But to all those who are surprised by this, I have to say, were you not paying attention to this guy the past 13 years?  

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Non-Sinister Reptilian Overlords

November 07, 2013

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

Finally, finally, finally, it's here: The first episode of the newly-relaunched Point of Inquiry is up online, with Josh Zepps interviewing Leonard Mlodinow at the CFI Summit! Video too

Yesterday, SCOTUS heard arguments in Greece v. Galloway on prayers at government and legislative meetings. One tidbit, via the AP:

Justice Samuel Alito pointed to the country's religious diversity to voice his skepticism about the call for only nonsectarian prayer. "I just don't see how it is possible to compose anything that you could call a prayer that is acceptable to all of these groups," Alito said. As Douglas Laycock, the University of Virginia law professor representing the residents, tried to craft an answer, Justice Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts jumped in. "You want to pick the groups we're going to exclude?" Scalia said. A few seconds later, Roberts chimed in, "We've already excluded the atheists, right?"   

Ron Lindsay noticed something about Election Day on Tuesday that raised an alarm: He was the youngest one there:

Nothing against old people — like me — but our interests and views should not be overrepresented.  

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If You Go to Google on the Internet It Will Back Up What I Say

November 06, 2013

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

Jeez, there's a lot going on today.

There were elections yesterday, and you don't need me to go on about that, though it's fair to say that secularism may have dodged a bullet or two in the Old Dominion. (I should disclose that I sort of worked under Governor-Elect McAuliffe when he was chair of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. He would have no idea who I am now, but he did sign a copy of his book for me on my first day there, in which he declared me the greatest campaign researcher in the world. I don't know how he knew that so quickly.)

And wouldn't you know it, Illinois' legislature passed marriage equality which the governor promises to sign. 

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Andorian Filibuster

November 05, 2013

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

Thanks to the Kepler spacecraft, astronomers are reporting that there are perhaps 40 billion Earth-size (and maybe Earth-like) planets in our galaxy alone. Federation Council meetings are going to take forever. I can totally see the Andorian delegate filibustering some dilithium mining bill.

Greece v. Galloway will be argued before the Supreme Court tomorrow, on the constitutionality of prayers at legislative and governmental functions. SCOTUSblog previews. Check out CFI's amicus brief on the case, and our own Michael De Dora's thoughts on the case from August. 

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