Service is Denied

March 13, 2015

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

Very good insight comes this morning from two of our fearless leaders in Free Inquiry on the CFI merger with its programs Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. First, we have CFI boss Ron Lindsay what unites skepticism and humanism:

What is it that skeptics do? Well, as the mission statement of CSI indicates, one of the important things that skeptics do is use science, reason, and critical inquiry to examine controversial and extraordinary claims. What is it that humanists do? One of the important things that humanists do is use reason, critical thinking, and, where applicable, scientific inquiry to examine religious and ethical claims. In other words, humanists and skeptics are united by their insistence on the use of critical thinking, evidence-based reasoning, and the scientific method. They also insist on freedom of inquiry. There should be no restrictions on inquiry; no claim is immune from critical examination.

Tom Flynn then gives a broader context to the merger, bringing in some history of the formation of the three organizations that are now one:

Give a listen to public radio's Science Friday this week and next, folks, because CFI is supporting the broadcast to spread the world about the Reason for Change conference. (SciFri + CFI. Nice!)

This is pretty cool: Stephen Law of CFI-UK is interviewed for The Browser's "Five Books" feature, where he talks about books of importance to him. Meanwhile, on March 22, Keith Ward, author of The Evidence for God, will talk with Stephen at a CFI-UK event

Hemant Mehta does a video on the American Family Association's risible "bigotry map," noting our OUTRAGE at not being included. Here's me when I saw we weren't on it:

(╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻ 

Ben Radford lends alternative explanations to the story about police officers rescuing a child from a wrecked car and hearing "guardian angel" voices

Satanists in Michigan want a law passed that says if you discriminate based on your religion, you have to put up a sign: "Due to sincerely held religious beliefs, service is denied to _______." 

A teacher and their students are arrested in Bahrain. The charge? Reciting Koranic verses with musical accompaniment. 

There will be a rally in honor of Avijit Roy at DuPont Circle in Washington, DC on March 21.  

The General Social Survey shows the number of "nones" in the U.S. is still rising, and Tobin Grant says, "If this growth continues, in a few years the largest 'religion' in the U.S. may be no religion at all."

First we get hot water under the ice of Saturn's moon Enceladus. Now we have full-fledged oceans under the ice of Jupiter's moon Ganymede! How cool. 

Philadelphia's transit system cannot reject an anti-Islam ad featuring Hitler, says a federal court. 

Ted Cruz, who oversees NASA in the Senate, wants NASA to ignore climate change.  

The Dennis and Victoria Ross Foundation names its free expression award for journalists "The Hitchens Prize":

The Prize, in any event, is not intended, ‬if it were even possible,‭ ‬to identify writers who align closely with Christopher‭ ‬Hitchens,‭ ‬nor to celebrate his views in every particular.‭ Rather,‭ ‬the Prize seeks to advance what he was dedicated to throughout his life: vigorous,‭ ‬honest, and open public debate and discussion,‭ ‬with no tolerance of orthodoxy,‭ ‬no reverence for authority,‭ ‬and a belief in reasoned dialogue as the best path to the truth.‭  

Quote of the Day  

This requires quick context. A while back, I linked to a story about the discovery of a dinosaur species, Dreadnoughtus, thought to be the largest land animal to ever live. My 5-year-old son has a project this week in his preschool class on dinosaurs, his favorite subject, and had to choose one to report on. We chose, you guessed it, Dreadnoughtus. I snapped a picture of my wonderful boy and his project (check out his drawing!), and shared it to the inter-social-webs. And guess who responded to the tweet? None other than paleontologist Ken Lacovara, the man who discovered Dreadnoughtus! He tweeted:

Nice! Please tell him I said he did a great job!

And on my contention that my boy would "kick those other kids' [projects] butts," Lacovara said:

Totally smile

Boy was I proud to tell my boy about that! 

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