Words Almost Fail

January 6, 2014

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

Tom Flynn thinks the Nye/Ham debate is a dubious prospect, but, "Nye will be going into a battle of wits against an unarmed opponent, and the proceedings are bound to be astounding to watch." 

Ben Radford weighs in on the same: "CNN would be widely ridiculed if they invited a member of the Flat Earth Society to debate astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson about whether our planet is round."  

The Onion hits atheists pretty hard. Fair or not, it's funny! 

Jenny McCarthy says her son never had autism, except she'd said it four years ago, except no, she never said it. Are we done now?

Hemant suffers for your sins, and reads Sarah Palin's "book." 

LA Times on the efforts to return a Christian cross to LA County's seal: "Words almost fail, but here's one that comes to mind: Seriously?"

So hey, holy crap everybody, I was quoted by Andrew Sullivan yesterday for my take on TED talks as "secular megachurches"! 

Library in Lebanon is torched, destroying some 80,000 volumes, because someone found a pamphlet critical of Islam in one of the books. 

Perhaps wary of suffering the same fate, Burger King in UK recalls its ice cream cones because the lids have a picture on them that kind of maybe look like an Arabic inscription for Allah, prompting a jihad threat.  

Point of Inquiry co-host Lindsay Beyerstein reports at Al Jazeera America on the harrowing choices Texas forces women to make if they want to end a pregnancy. 

Robert T. Gonzalez at io9: "Let's just debunk every flu-vaccine myth in one fell swoop, shall we?" Yes, let's. (Update: It's just been revealed to me that this piece is from October, but you know what? Still good stuff.)

Pretend you're Darwin, only be Darwin hanging out with the guy who wrote A Universe from Nothing

Wow. Losing NYC city council candidate sues the winner for placing a curse on her via mural.

Want to know if people from the future have traveled back in time to visit us? Check Twitter for slip-ups

A "metallic cigar/rugby ball like" object reportedly has a near-miss with an Airbus, scaring the buhjeezus out of the pilot, and one reader sending in a photo of what looks like one of Grover Monster's hairs.  

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian sentenced to death for blasphemy (and one of the cases tracked by our Campaign for Free Expression), writes to Pope Francis.

CNN: Sunday Assemblies have their first schism. Hemant: No they don't.

Study highlights the overrepresentation by Christian NGOs at the UN. Our own Michael De Dora notes that as best he knows, there are exactly four nontheistic NGOs there, CFI among them. 

Change.org petition is launched for Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who faces a possible death sentence for apostasy. 

Newly-elected Town Board member of Pomfret, NY is sworn in donning a Pastafarian colander on his head. I'm moved.  

Catholic Diocese of Beaumont and Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas score an injunction against the contraceptive mandate. And on and on. 

This is comforting. Ronald Reagan was apparently heavily influenced by the writings of Manly P. Hall:

[A] Los Angeles teacher [who] wrote about America’s “secret destiny.” The United States, in Hall’s view, was a society that had been planned and founded by secret esoteric orders to spread enlightenment and liberty to the world. 

Marcia Angell at NYRB reviews three books that point to this:

[T]he pharmaceutical industry has gained enormous control over how doctors evaluate and use its own products. Its extensive ties to physicians, particularly senior faculty at prestigious medical schools, affect the results of research, the way medicine is practiced, and even the definition of what constitutes a disease. 

Kimberly Winston reports on the year-long stunt being undertaken by Pastor Ryan Bell to live "as an atheist" for one year. Here's his blog

Greg Epstein delivers closing remarks at an interfaith service with Boston's mayor-elect. 

Sydney Morning Herald looks at the field of cryptozoology, and gives it the best headline ever: "Where the wild things aren't" 

Atheist candidate for Texas state rep responds to the whole "Year of the Bible" thing from the hilariously-named Flower Mound, TX. 

It's not religion, but there is a dogma: Here's what happened to gun journalist Dick Metcalf:

In late October, Mr. Metcalf wrote a column that the magazine titled “Let’s Talk Limits,” which debated gun laws. “The fact is,” wrote Mr. Metcalf, who has taught history at Cornell and Yale, “all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be.” The backlash was swift, and fierce. Readers threatened to cancel their subscriptions. Death threats poured in by email. His television program was pulled from the air. 

Martin Robbins at Vice has a tough-love prescription for atheism in 2014. He's pretty brutal on Dawkins, et. al., but he does highlight CFI's Women in Secularism conferences as a positive development. 

Chris Stedman interviews Jessica Ahlquist, two years after she became an atheist hero in Rhode Island. 

Evil new scam: Give us your money, it's covered in viruses

Charles Blow at NYT opines on the troubling anti-evolution views of conservatives, and blames Republicans for pushing a fear of science on religious voters, calling it "a tactic to keep the Republican rank-and-file riled up, to divert their attention from areas of common sense and the common good." 

Those crop circles from the other day? A promotion from graphics chip maker NVIDIA.

Quote of the Day

NYT's Amy Harmon on the staunch resistance to genetically modified crops:

At stake is how to grow healthful food most efficiently, at a time when a warming world and a growing population make that goal all the more urgent. Scientists, who have come to rely on liberals in political battles over stem-cell research, climate change and the teaching of evolution, have been dismayed to find themselves at odds with their traditional allies on this issue. Some compare the hostility to G.M.O.s to the rejection of climate-change science, except with liberal opponents instead of conservative ones. 

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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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