Delving Into Molecular Innards

November 20, 2013

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

Fascinating: Scientists and physicians are relying on "spiritual healers" in Uganda to alert them to folks showing symptoms of the plague, and to help get them real medical attention:

"We trained traditional healers how to spot the symptoms of the plague," says [medical anthropologist Mary] Hayden, who now works at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. "We gave them cellphones with the hospital's number programmed into it. And we gave them bicycles so they could help get people to clinics." 

Ron Lindsay weighs in on the "hand-wringing" over religious liberty in the marriage equality debate:

The suggestion that the government can require religious institutions to perform a marriage ceremony for anyone is a bogeyman, a phantom worry. . . . The government must respect religious beliefs, and should not compel a person to perform an act affecting that person’s body that is inconsistent with that person’s beliefs.  But that does not imply the religious can attempt to control the actions of others.  

Jim Underdown of CFI-LA calls Scientology's bluff, offers $100,000 to prove their "superpowers." 

United Methodist jury gives gay-marriage-officiating pastor 30 days to cut it out or get the boot. 

I totally didn't know this: The Gettysburg Address, in its first two drafts, the ones written for the actual speech-giving, has no mention of God, under or over or around or anything. 

The UN's Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief tells the General Assembly that religion must not be accepted as a justification for harm done to women and girls.

Church-state separation SOLVED by Marco Rubio who says “God is everywhere” and “doesn’t need our permission to be anywhere.” Creepy. 

UK’s International Longevity Centre calls vaccinations a "civic duty." Does this mean Jenny McCarthy has to secede? 

For the occasion of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's 198th birthday, CFI's library-master Tim Binga shows off a treasure.  

NYT hosts a "Room for Debate" discussion on natural disasters as "acts of God." 

Comedian Jack Vale used info gleaned from people's social media feeds to pretend to have "psychic" powers:

Vale said he realized he could take this a lot further than just a quick hello or quasi psychic sketch. He admits he could have gone full on con man and tried to act like he actually knows these people or their friends . . . For example, Vale said during the production he saw an account for a 15-year-old girl who tweeted that her parents were away for the weekend.

Military Religious Freedom Foundation releases an ad calling the Air Force Academy a "fundamentalist Christian military ministry."

Vibrations and an uneven base are the causes of a "possessed" statue moving on its own. You can exorcise this spirit by sticking a folded up napkin under the statue. 

Humanists of Washington speak against a Pierce County budget amendment allotting taxpayer funds to the Child Evangelism Fellowship. 

Paul Davies throws some cold water on the idea that the Universe is chock full of lifeforms, and says one way to make an educated guess is to determine whether life emerged on Earth on separate, independent instances:

It could be that intermingled among the seething microbes all around us are some that are so biochemically different they could be descended only from a separate origin. You couldn’t tell by looking, only by delving into their molecular innards and finding something weird enough to rule out a common precursor. The discovery of just a single “alien” microbe under our very noses would be enough to conclude that the universe was indeed teeming with life. 

Brooklyn bookshop is playing host to events including witches and cauldrons and alchemy and "genitalia candles." Newsweek also recently had a piece on "millennial hipsters" dabbling in witchcraft.

Altercation at Liberty University results in the shooting death of a student

Not very humanist-y of you: founder of Scotland's largest humanist organization, 92-year-old Nigel Bruce, quits the group over its support of same-sex marriage

Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at University of Oklahoma will host a discussion on art and blasphemy this Friday.

Anti-abortion group gets in hot water as someone posts to their Facebook page an encouragement to kidnap women who might get an abortion and cart them to a church. 

Here's a pretty picture of the ISON comet

Quote of the Day

Peggy Revell opines on Canada's religious diversity as debate over Quebec's "Values Charter" goes on, and comes up with a line I wish I'd thought of:

Of course our national anthem, coat of arms, and other national symbols and traditions are steeped in Christian and European traditions, as only these folk had the political power during this nation’s formative years. Only men could vote then as well, but it would be ridiculous to call Canada a “man’s nation.” 

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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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