Investigate the Earth’s Roundness

January 14, 2016

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

I've always been uncomfortable with the common refrain from the climate-realist camp saying that "97%" of scientists accept human-caused global warming. I always thing, but what's up with that 3%? Well, according to this really fascinating piece at Skeptical Inquirer by James Lawrence Powell, that figure is wrong. The real number? 99.9%, verging on total unanimity. Now I feel much better.  

Indian comedian Kiku Sharda is arrested for "offending religious sentiments" when he performed as guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh (the "guru in bling") on TV, who is himself under investigation for urging followers to undergo castrations. Yowza. 

A terror attack in Jakarta kills 2 civilians and wounds 19, and ISIS is the likely culprit. The 5 attackers were also killed.

A new survey shows that 43% of DC's homeless youth are LGTBQ. Mayor Muriel Bowser said, "We know that these young people face the most bullying and discrimination and assault, you name it, not only from the outside world but often from their own families, neighbors and close associates."

Fortune magazine gets a lot of flak for its latest cover, depicting Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos done up like Vishnu as "Amazon Invades India." Anil Dash tweeted, "Ok, cool @FortuneMagazine now do one with Bezos as Jesus in honor of Black Friday?" I'd like to see that one, too.

CFI's Joe Nickell is quoted in the Sarasota Herald Tribune in a report on more, yes more, claims about the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin. Noting that the arguments are usually made by those who already believe in its authenticity, Joe says, "That’s a little bit like having the Flat Earth Society investigate the question of the Earth’s roundness." 

Paul Bhatti, a Catholic in Pakistan, is campaigning against the country's blasphemy law, which carries with it a death sentence. His brother Shahbaz was murdered in 2011 for alleged blasphemy, and as RNS's Rosie Scammell notes, "Death sentences sometimes spark violence before being carried out."  

Atheist Aleta Ledendecker delivers an invocation to the Oak Ridge, Tennessee city council, and one council member walks out (her beliefs were "assailed," you see), and the mayor cuts her off before her time was up. Stay classy, Oak Ridge. 

Kimberly Winston reports on SCA's new boss Larry Decker (a "nominal Christian") and his goal to "unite the nones."

Police in Moscow call a Pastafarian's bluff: If you want a strainer on your head in your license photo, we better not catch you driving without it

CFI–Ohio is holding its fourth Secular Summit in February

CFI–San Francisco and the Bay Area Skeptics are cited among the city's "subcultures" by The Bold Italic

This is so cool, and my 6-year-old son agrees: Paleontologists uncover the remains of a super-giant prehistoric crocodile, Machimosaurus rex

Speaking of monsters, this blurry lump of something in the water is clearly a Nessie-type beast. Obviously. 

Fredrick Clarkson on the trend of religious conservatives co-opting the language of "religious freedom" to mean something else:

One underappreciated aspect of the wider trend is something called “religification.” A number of Christian right legal agencies have produced manuals for churches and related institutions, to rewrite such things as job descriptions to extend the legal definition of “ministry” in order to seek exemption from labor standards and civil rights laws, and to inoculate themselves against discrimination lawsuits. ... This is not limited to efforts by Christian Right groups to seek religious exemptions for businesses from providing services such as cakes and flowers for same-sex weddings.

Quote of the Day:

Julie Miller at The Christian Post (!) advises Christians, well, not to be blowhards at atheists, and instead, to let them be who they are: 
 
Too often people believe that atheists will "change their ways" if they're just convinced of the existence of god, and so atheists are subjected to incessant lectures by well-meaning individuals. Believe me, atheists have heard all of the arguments before—many times. That's the wrong way to interact with an atheist, whether the person is a stranger or a friend. ... While atheism isn’t a religion or a belief system, it is still something that guides a person, something that should be respected. The common thread with any of these showstoppers is that it ignores that fact and calls the atheist wrong, instead of promoting critical thought and consideration. Avoid doing that and an atheist will be like any other person – capable of love and of a happy life.
 
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Original image by Shutterstock

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