“NSA” Stands for “Nazi Space Aliens”

January 15, 2014

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

U.S. Senior District Judge Terence Kern strikes down Oklahoma's ban on same-sex marriage, calling it "arbitrary" and "irrational," though his ruling is "on hold" for now, so don't plan your wedding there just yet. 

Daniel Burke at CNN gathers thoughts from various secular movement thinkers and leaders about the Ryan Bell atheist-for-a-year experiment, and accidentally includes me. I posit hopefully:

[Bell] might help us to understand what powers we sacrifice when we spend less of ourselves on entreaties to an unknowable being, and direct those energies toward dealing with the real world, as it is, right now. 

The Christian Post takes an interest in our Freethought Books Project for prisoners, and of course has to compare us to Nixon administration convict Chuck Colson and his prison ministry. [Update: And Glenn Beck's The Blaze is also concerned about what we're up to, "targeting inmates."]

Let's talk about death, baby. Lindsay Beyerstein interviews Arthur Caplan about the ethics surrounding brain death and end-of-life issues on a totally fascinating new Point of Inquiry

UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay definitively condemns Nigeria's anti-LGBT law:

Rarely have I seen a piece of legislation that in so few paragraphs directly violates so many basic, universal human rights. Rights to privacy and non-discrimination, rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, rights to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention: this law undermines all of them. 

The government is not wasting any time in enforcement, as dozens of men are already being rounded up in Nigeria. 

Steven Novella on how to sell snake oil

Zoe Williams laments what she sees as atheists' "systematic civic exclusion."  

Iranian state news reports that the NSA is working to hide the fact that the U.S. is run by the same space aliens that ran Nazi Germany. This is a joke, right?   

Molly Worthen traces the creationist movement to its roots, exploring where the idea of the Bible-as-science-book arose:

This doctrine of inerrancy matured into its most elaborate form in the mid-nineteenth century at Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey. Charles Hodge, a professor there, called the Bible a God-given “storehouse of facts.” He said a theologian must “arrange and harmonize” these facts just as a scientist infers the laws of nature by collecting data from the material world. The Christian is not only a scientist, then; he is a much better scientist than the nonbeliever, for he grasps the most basic truth of God’s order.

Sam Harris suggests that we erode some of the borders between what we classify as "science" and other disciplines, such as history or philosophy, writing, "The scientific attitude can handle whatever happens to be the case." 

Rush Limbaugh is now officially anti-science about everything, declaring that the NFL concussion controversy has "no science behind it." "Just trust me," he says. Okay.

Science-Based Pharmacy found perhaps the most irresponsible homeopathic product you can buy over the counter: a homeopathic asthma spray

Ben Radford at LiveScience parses out what's really going on with this Icelandic belief in elves:

Some Icelanders truly believe in elves, and many do not. Some of the eco-protesters in Great Britain, Iceland and Scandinavia are genuinely concerned about disrupting fairy villages, and some aren't. To most of them, it doesn't really matter; the important point is that the world's attention is drawn to what they see as an illegal and immoral destruction of pristine land. - See more at: https://www.livescience.com/42547-elves-spark-environmental-protest-iceland.html#sthash.h7PRNaXu.dpuf 

Here's a handy chart of the countries that imprison or kill you for blasphemy or apostasy. Hey, I see some of our friends there! Hi guys! Hey, what's with the handcuffs? 

A long-term survey aims to track subjects' "spirituality," complete with smartphone app. 

Isaac Chotiner at TNR relishes the ground being ceded by theists who continue to dilute the very concept of what God is. 

According to Pew's numbers, more people live in countries where outright hostility from others limits their religious freedom than live in countries where the state is putting down limits. It's too damn many in both cases. 

Last week, Republicans allowed the Legion of Doom (the U.S. Council of Bishops) to run roughshod over a hearing on a new anti-abortion bill, and barred DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton from testifying.  

Alana Massey defends Dawkins the poet of science, de-emphasizing his ornery side. 

There is a schism in the Satanic church over that Oklahoma monument. Of course there is. 

How do you become a Catholic saint? You need to have three miracles and STAY ON BUDGET

Quote of the Day

Satirical news site The Beaverton has an update on the York University religion freedom controversy, and it's messy:

After permitting a student to be excused from course work on religious grounds so he would not have to publicly interact with female peers, the Dean of York University is also permitting another student to have the right to ritually murder people to appease his gods.

“We are legally obliged to heed to the student’s wishes of human sacrifice” said Dr. Martin Singer, Dean of the faculty of Arts and Science at the university. “This wouldn’t affect many students as the festival of Tlacaxipehualiztli only lasts 20 days to celebrate the spring equinox and sometimes occurs during reading week. Additionally, the student has assured me that obsidian blades are so sharp that you will barely feel them.”

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