Egomania and Cowardice

December 10, 2013

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

IHEU releases its 2013 Freedom of Thought Report on the state of persecution for atheists around the world.  

Lindsay Beyerstein conducts an extremely informative interview with Americans United's Barry Lynn on the latest Point of Inquiry. A great primer on the major church-state cases going on.

The Time magazine entry for Pope Francis's nomination for Person of the Year included the assertion that the pope "reject[s] church dogma and luxury." It has since been changed to omit "church dogma."  

The Mormon church officially disavows its previous teachings on blacks being barred from the priesthood:

The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.

So, Secular Coalition had its whole secular-policy briefing yesterday on the Hill, our own Michael De Dora was there, and, well, yeah, they really did bring fashion models

David Dobbs at Aeon says the "selfish gene" theory isn't quite right, and the emphasis should be on gene expression rather than mutation. 

The Curiosity rover finds a lakebed that scientists say was totally capable of supporting life

Nobel Prize winning biologist Randy Schekman declares he will boycott major scientific journals Nature, Cell, and Science, because he believes they favor trendiness and flash over substance.

Middlebury College English professor Jay Parini tries to piece together what he thinks are the likely events of Jesus's death and "resurrection." Take it as you will.

It is possible that Russia will release members of Pussy Riot along with other political dissidents under an amnesty submitted by Putin to the parliament.  

Meanwhile, Russia means to block inclusion of references to sexual orientation in UN non-discrimination documents.  

This headline is misleading: "Sarah Palin: We Have To ‘Do Something About’ Atheists" -- It's still Palin being Palin, aw shucks and gee wiz those atheists are ruining Christmas, but the headline implies something a touch more sinister. Still, you know, America's in trouble, etc. 

I don't understand this, but apparently something called "rainbow gravity" implies that different wavelengths of light "experience" time differently, which means that there may not have been a Big Bang as we understand it. "The result suggests perhaps the universe had no beginning at all, and that time can be traced back infinitely far." 

Iraq-based Jihadists execute Ibrahim Qassum of Syria with a gunshot to the head for allegedly committing "blasphemy":

The fighters bought fuel from him and asked him why it was impure. He responded in the colloquial dialect by saying 'How should I know? What am I, the God of fuel?'

Florida governor Rick Scott approves the placement of a Festivus Pole at the State Capitol. 

Tablet magazine talks to Dave Silverman about how, as an atheist, he doesn't consider himself a Jew: "I am not a Jew, I am a child of Jews." 

I'm not sure if this is "native advertising" or straight-up graft: North Carolina's WRAL posts a glowing piece on acupuncture and its ability to cure everything ever, with "Carolina Partners in Mental HealthCare" as the byline, and oh look at the bottom of the article:

Carolina Partners in Mental HealthCare is an advertising partner of, but each article is intended to be educational and informative in nature.  

Poland's parliament gets to keep its big-ass crucifix despite legal challenges from nonreligious Members. 

NYT likes the Dawkins-Krauss buddy movie. 

Luxembourg's prime minister wants to replace religious education with ethics education

Creationist "mathematician": The Bible is correct because something-something it's hard to randomly deal playing cards in numerical order something-something.  

President Obama levels with America about Area 51 and aliens. Not really. 

Quote of the Day

Alber Saber and Kacem El Ghazzali comment jointly on atheist persecution for the IHEU report:

Freedom of thought and belief must not be compromised. When regimes violently attack people for their ideas and beliefs, all human rights suffer. Oppression of thought by the state is a sign, not of strength, but of egomania and cowardice.

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Image is an actual picture of my wife's smashed iPhone

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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