Fudging a Fatwa

January 26, 2015

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

Our boss Ron Lindsay sits down to talk about the ideas behind his new book, The Necessity of Secularismin this short video. "If we want to live together in peace, we need to reason together. We can't have God tell us what to do." I bet Ron didn't expect to find praise for his book in the Jamaica Gleaner, where Ian Boyne says, "His is an excellent, irenic book that should appeal to well-thinking theists, showing why their best bet is a secular state, not a religious one." (Irenic means "aiming or aimed at peace." I didn't know that before.)

Before you do anything else this week, you should probably catch up on the last fortnight of CFI activity with the latest Cause & Effect newsletter

CFI-Northeast Ohio's Matt Marshall pens a guest op-ed at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, denouncing legislative attempts to undermine science education in Ohio, and shoehorn in creationism.

Raif Badawi knows he is being fought for. Germany, in particular, stakes a claim on a lead role in freeing him. Interestingly, this happens just as Germany halts all shipments of arms purchases by Saudi Arabia. 

When it comes to dealings between royals, you gotta love the Queen

David A. Grimes ties the anti-vax and anti-abortion movements into an anti-science attitude largely driven by apathy.

Dr. Marc Siegel kind of loses it, justifiably, on Fox News over the anti-vaxxers. "Your celebrities did not go to medical school!" 

Stuart Vyse at Skeptical Inquirer uses Google Trends data to look at the state of the public's attitude toward pseudoscience like the anti-vax and anti-GMO movements, and it's not looking great.

The Day of Solidarity for Black Non-Believers is February 22, and we've got some information on holding events to mark the day at our African Americans for Humanism program. 

Post-Hebdo, France makes a push for a better understanding and embrace of secularism in its schools.  

Wow, this is really something. Guy in Florida is refused the opportunity to deliver a secular invocation to a county board meeting, then protests during a regular prayer, and then delivers public comments, complete with "Hail Satan!" 

Michael De Dora is among the guests (though weirdly uncredited on the website) on the Thinking Atheist podcast discussing the Hebdo repercussions. Michael appears around 26 minutes in.

Turkey orders Facebook to censor all images and pages "insulting" the Prophet Muhammad.  

Ben Radford looks at the troubling case of children who are purported to experience "spontaneous human combustion" by their parents.  

Louise Lief recommends much more collaboration between science and journalism in a long piece at the Wilson Quarterly

NYT reports that if Romney makes another go at the White House, it'll be largely driven by a sense of faith-based obligation

The California Supreme Court votes to bar state judges from affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America due to their discriminatory practices.  

Lawrence Krauss picks apart the science-makes-the-case-for-God thing in the New Yorker

Boko Harem is being called "the Islamic State of Africa."  

A public high school teacher in Indiana says he was fired for being an atheist, and is suing. 

Might the Catholic Church get fluffy on divorce

UK court declines to equate male circumcision with female genital mutilation.  

This is from a couple weeks ago, but I just saw it. Yusuf Islam (né Cat Stevens) is still really fudgy about the whole Rushdie-should-be-killed-for-blasphemy thing. But he sings about peace, you see.

Wow, gigapixels of Andromeda. (You'll need lots of bandwidth for the full whammy, more than I apparently have.)

Here comes the Bigfoot airship.  

Ladies and gentlemen, the tautological clock

Quote of the Day

"Andrea Martin" (not that one), a concerned mother, advocates for her parental rights at The Onion:

The decision to cause a full-blown, multi-state pandemic of a virus that was effectively eliminated from the national population generations ago is my choice alone, and regardless of your personal convictions, that right should never be taken away from a child’s parent. Never.
 
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Comments:

#1 Randy on Tuesday January 27, 2015 at 1:52am

While it is a step forward that the UK court is considering this cutting together, it works hard to come to the wrong conclusion.  There is only “genital mutilation”.  It hardly matters whether it is done to someone having a penis, or a vagina (neither of which tell you the child’s gender).  It hardly matters the religion of the people doing it.  Dubious medical claims hardly matter either.

Female circumcision is often described as being a religious requirement as well as having net health benefits.  Just because we don’t see it that way in the west doesn’t mean that isn’t the belief where it is practised (just ask the female proponents of female circumcision—they exist and are often the people who carry it out).  Wikipedia says “there is a widespread view ... particularly in Mali, Eritrea, Mauritania, Guinea and Egypt, that [female circumcision] is a religious requirement”. 

And while male genital cutting can be circumcision, and can be done in a sterile environment to reduce risk (still killing the occasional child) it is often done in other ways for ritual purposes, and sometimes goes far beyond male circumcision to cutting deep into the shaft.  Nevertheless, just as with female circumcision, ALL male genital cutting is wrong, unless there’s a compelling medical reason to do it.  For most penises, there will never be such a reason.

#2 Randy on Tuesday January 27, 2015 at 2:00am

“Boko Harem”

Actual name “Boko Haram” (something like “books forbidden”)

New name “Boko Harem” (“harem of books”?)

Brings to mind a song “My Baby Loves A Bunch Of Authors”.

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