Portlandian Bodily Fluids

May 23, 2013

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

Horror in London, as a man identified as a soldier is hacked to death by what seem to be Islamist militants, who film the attack in broad daylight. 

In a tweet, Reza Aslan seems to know what happens next:

Alright Muslims. You know the drill. Some Muslim somewhere did something crazy. Get out there and start apologizing for it.

Andrew Sullivan, in reaction to the attack:

Two things are true here. The first is that this was a religious sacrificial murder, authorized by God in the eyes of the killers. The second is that this is clearly motivated by blowback from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The first is indefensible on any grounds. The second is a reminder that in the war against this religious barbarism, occupying Muslim countries is not an answer. 

For those at Women in Secularism last weekend, you know that Katha Pollitt had some fascinating stuff to say about sexism and religion. Now you can hear her expand on that very topic, as she's the guest on the latest Point of Inquiry.

The most excellent Brian Engler has posted the first batch of photos from the conference, and you can see them here. Now, to look at these pics, you'd never even know I was there. My plan is working.

CFI-Indiana's Reba Boyd Wooden is heard on Indiana public radio to talk about the upcoming Supreme Court case on prayer at government functions. 

The Economist's Erasmus columnist says that simply repealing blasphemy laws where they exist won't solve the foundational problem:

For social harmony to exist, other preconditions have to be in place. A minimum number of people have to subscribe to the principle that living together peacefully and constructively (in a household, a village, a clan or any other sort of group) is a desirable end; and that in pursuit of that end, it may sometimes be a good idea to show a minimum of good manners or self-restraint. 

According to NYT, the Mormon animators at BYU "[have] become a farm team for the country’s top animation studios and effects companies." Cartoons full of values "without being preachy."

Quoting Sagan rather than Yahweh upsets Rep. Juan Mendez's Arizona House colleague Steve Smith, who makes sure to squeeze in an extra prayer to "repent." 

Arizona Republic reporters discuss Mendez's non-prayer in this video, and they seem sympathetic generally.  

Chelsea Clinton is now co-director of a "multifaith" institute at NYU. I checked, and there are no variations on "no faith" that I could see.

I guess many Oregonians' precious bodily fluids are safe, as the city votes down fluoridation. I predict less smiling over the coming years.

Have independent checks verified that E-Cat does cold fusion? What am I even talking about? Who can say? 

Want to do something for Oklahoma, but want it to be pointless and akin to throwing your money in a furnace? Go buy the victims more Bibles.

Sharon Hill and Consumerist remind us to be wary of even scammier Oklahoma fake-charities

60 cases have been filed by Catholic business owners trying to skirt the contraceptive coverage requirement in the Affordable Care Act.

Muslim Village: Bangladeshis begin to ask the government to give in to the radical Islamists' demands for tougher blasphemy laws, if only to bring peace back to the country. 

Christian Science Monitor reports on a "surge" in blasphemy charges in Egypt against Christians, made "on the flimsiest of evidence." 

Chris Burke at the On Campus blog is troubled by what he sees as the state of science in Canada

At Discovery News, CSI's Ben Radford looks at the fraud committed by the now-convicted Christine Daniel for her quack cancer treatment.  

And lemme tell you, when I think "Ben Radford," I think "love labyrinth." Whoa, was that out loud? 

I'm all excited about NASA's asteroid mission, even though their video has hints of cheese. 

Anteater Jesus

Quote of the Day 

Now I feel kind of bad for yesterday's exorcism image I made about the pope. Okay, no I don't. But still, I never thought I'd live to see a pope say anything like this:

The Lord created us in His image and likeness, and we are the image of the Lord, and He does good and all of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us. ‘But, Father, this is not Catholic! He cannot do good.’ Yes, he can... "The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!".. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.    

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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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#1 dewdds on Thursday May 23, 2013 at 10:26am

“There were two black guys walking around his body saying ‘This is what God would’ve wanted’.” - taken from an excerpt of Sullivan’s article.

I’m wondering what country Sullivan seems to be concerned about regarding the perps and this ‘blowback’ argument? They weren’t dressed like the Taliban or wearing traditional Arab garbs, nor were they speaking Pashtun or Arabic, so I’m guessing they weren’t Afghanis or Iraqis.

Sullivan concludes that the acts were motivated by their religion, but then excuses it in the next phrase by using the hackneyed apologia of “blowback”. How is it blowback when neither of the assailants were from Iraq or Afghanistan? They appear to be African-Brits, probably of Caribbean origin, thus they can’t claim nationalistic sentiment.  Is the British Army occupying Jamaica or Trinidad now, mauling the Muslim communities there?

Extrapolating Sullivan’s argument then, we should see atheists mounting violent attacks on the governments of Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh, KSA, etc. for their repression and persecution of free thinkers. Christians across the world should be burning down Mosques in revenge for the attacks on their religion within the Islamic world. Is this really a valid excuse that Sullivan attempts to dredge from this latest terror event?

The blowback argument is one of the most intellectually dishonest arguments in these cases, because it seems to only apply to Muslims. Thus, a Muslim convert born in Cincinatti has a ‘little more of an excuse’ to murder innocents in his hometown, because the Taliban is being contested in Afghanistan & Pakistan? Perhaps Sullivan needs to explore this illogic a bit further.

Lastly, I could give a damn about apologies from the Islamic community vis-a-vis Aslan. It’s time Muslims recognize that their scriptures and teachings too often lend themselves to violent interpretation. It’s time they start ripping themselves away from 7th c. CE religious doctrine that implores them to fight the unbelievers regardless of circumstances or consequences. Of course reforming Islam in this manner would pretty much kill it. And that would be just fine by me.

#2 Mark W (Guest) on Thursday May 23, 2013 at 10:45am

Anteater Jesus is my favorite Depeche Mode song.

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