Literally, or Perhaps Figuratively

January 9, 2014

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

A solar flare is coming right at us! CFI's Barry Karr worries, "In my mind this is how the Zombie Apocalypse starts." One thing that actually might happen: The Northern Lights may become visible over a wider area as a result. (And here's a nice song about solar flares.)

Utah's governor says the same-sex marriages that have been thus far performed in his state no longer count

The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates discovers he is an atheist after realizing there is no moral arc of the universe that bends toward justice, or anything else for that matter. 

Interestingly, Stephen Law takes it upon himself to define humanism (brave man), and gets into atheistic morality:

Humanists usually believe in the existence and importance of moral value. Humanists tend to have a particular interest and concern with moral and ethical issues. Most Humanists believe that actions can be objectively morally right or wrong. They therefore deny that the existence of objective moral values entails the existence of God.

So perhaps TNC is not just an atheist, but specifically a humanist! 

This is amazing: Graham Blair Christensen, who CFI-Calgary claims as one of their own, is one of about 1000 finalists to be selected to go to Mars on Mars One.

Herb Silverman is losing his enthusiasm for Pope Fluffy.  

Sunday, January 19, CFI-Los Angeles hosts David Falk for his talk (a "Falk Talk"?) "Astrology versus Astronomy: What do the Stars Tell Us?" 

AFP does a video report on the huckster televangelists of Nigeria. It includes perspective from Bamidele Adeneye, a humanist activist, who says, "All we do is tell people it is okay to ask questions. 

Andrew Sullivan is obviously my new best friend, because he cited me again, this time in a post about the study of prayer's effect on "cognitive depletion." I think I'm going to ask him if he wants to hang out, like, maybe play some Mario Kart or something.

Niles Township Food Pantry Foundation will be happy to take your dirty atheist money

Quack cancer doctor Stanislaw Burzynski has new charges filed against him in Texas. 

Come on guys, he's not saying Barack Obama is the Antichrist. THAT'S RIDICULOUS. He's saying that Obama is paving the way for the Antichrist. HUGE difference.

Congratulations to Lawrence Krauss -- an honorary board member of CFI and featured guest on our upcoming Galapagos expedition -- who just got married.

Malaysia is looking to ban a coalition of human rights groups for being "un-Islamic," and releasing a report that, according to Amnesty:

...pointed to a wide range of areas where the Malaysian authorities need to improve their human rights record – not only on freedom of religion and the discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals, but also on the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association.

The Hubble Telescope, which continues to astound well past its warranty, takes advantage of an effect called gravitational lensing to unveil "the deepest view of the universe ever seen."

Looks like that cross is going back on the Los Angeles county seal. 

Chris Stedman shows his characteristic pluck and optimism with his proposed New Year's resolutions for all of us:

[H]ere are two false ideas I think we can easily lay to rest in 2014:

1. People can’t be good without religion or God.

2. Religious believers are unintelligent.

Ida Lichter lambastes the UN for ignoring the oppression of Muslim women:

Although the UN does important humanitarian work, it is overgrown with the weeds of a dysfunctional bureaucracy and spineless leadership, and has become a watering hole for states that are prepared to sanction sex discrimination and extremist ideology without fear of serious challenge by the world body. 

Pew Research reveals attitudes toward women's freedom to dress as they like in public in several Muslim countries. Not looking good, Egypt. 

On the reverse side, a French court upholds the sentence of a woman charged with wearing a veil in public. 

About.com has rounded up a huge list of psychic predictions for 2014. I hope someone's keeping track. Here's my favorite, from Sidney Friedman: "A shock wave, perhaps literally or perhaps figuratively, is felt in Russia." Literally OR figuratively? Way to go out on a limb, there.

Quote of the Day

Amy Parker on being raised "organically":

I am the 70s child of a health nut. I wasn’t vaccinated. I was brought up on an incredibly healthy diet: no sugar till I was one, breastfed for over a year, organic homegrown vegetables, raw milk, no MSG, no additives, no aspartame. My mother used homeopathy, aromatherapy, osteopathy, we took daily supplements of vitamin C, echinacea, cod liver oil. . . . As healthy as my lifestyle seemed, I contracted measles, mumps, rubella, a type of viral meningitis, scarlatina, whooping cough, yearly tonsillitis, and chickenpox, some of which are vaccine preventable. In my twenties I got precancerous HPV and spent 6 months of my life wondering how I was going to tell my two children under the age of 7 that mummy might have cancer before it was safely removed.

. . . Those of you who have avoided childhood illnesses without vaccines are lucky. You couldn’t do it without us pro-vaxxers. Once the vaccination rates begin dropping, the less herd immunity will be able to protect your children. The more people you convert to your anti-vax stance, the quicker that luck will run out. 

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