Today’s Foghorn, Tomorrow’s Footnote

July 2, 2015

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

The US Episcopal Church votes to approve same-sex marriage, striking the words "man and woman" from the marriage canon in favor of gender-neutral wording. 

Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig makes a Christian case for vaccinations at The New Republic:

Vaccination is not only an individual healthcare choice, but a decision to participate in an act of self-sacrifice for one’s broader community. In most cases, the sacrifice is exceedingly small: a little bit of soreness at the injection site, and at worst, a day or so of feeling lousy. But it is worth it, in Christian terms, to protect the vulnerable.  

Despite the victory for vaccinations in California, in my adopted state of Maine, our rather abysmal governor vetoes a much milder bill that would have at least required parents to check with a doctor before opting out of vaccinations.

Polls usually show China to be a very atheistic country, but Ian Johnson at NYT reports that this may have more to do with major differences in interpretation of the word "religion" (or zongjiao) and the people's fear of being seen giving the "wrong" answer.

David Morrison (of SETI and NASA) reviews Four Revolutions in the Earth Sciences: From Heresy to Truth by James Lawrence Powell, for Skeptical Inquirer.

NYT "public editor" Margaret Sullivan punts on the question of why they can print a picture of the pope made of condoms, but not the Charlie Hebdo Muhammad images, boiling it down to the fact that the rage level is greater for one than the other. Which is really, really, really weak. 

The Girl Scouts of Western Washington say 'no thank you' to a $100,000 donation given with the proviso that it not be used for the benefit of transgender girls. It took about a day for donations of $185,000 from non-bigots to come in response. 

CFI's David Koepsell thinks of courts and the law as a kind of "god" that we actually don't need as often as presumed:

Hobbes used the “state of nature” as a justification of the Leviathan, the beast of a state that curbs man’s baser instincts, just as a god and her edicts are necessary to stifle our instincts to sin. Both are myths, and once people come to grips with the idea that law is not the only, nor even necessary, enticement to behave well, lawyers would start to suffer the sort of job insecurity we often hope the clergy will someday face.  

94-year-old Oskar Gröning, on trial in Germany for his role in the deaths of 300,000 Jews at Auschwitz, admits his "moral guilt" as a bookkeeper for the concentration camp, but refuses to apologize. 

Sen. Jeff Sessions, who, let's just say, is one of the less tolerant members of the Senate, which is saying something, says the SCOTUS marriage decision poses "a danger to the future of the Republic." I assume he means this one, but who can say. 

Here come the polygamy cases

More images from New Horizons reveal Pluto to be a "peachy dwarf planet." Aw.

Working with the Gates Foundation, a Saudi prince is going to give $32 billion to good causes. Ben Hubbard reports:

The prince, Alwaleed bin Talal, said the funds would go to his charity, Alwaleed Philanthropies, for causes like disease eradication, intercultural understanding, women’s empowerment, disaster relief and the electrification of isolated areas. 

Former Council for Secular Humanism research fellow, scholar Ibn Warraq, now has a website, which is significant because people still write in asking to talk to him, and I have had nowhere to point folks. Now I do! 

Could this be a sign that CFI is really moving up in the world? (Get it? "Sign"? Because they like to hold really awful signs? Huh?)

Quote of the Day:

Jim Carrey, as you know, is losing his mind over the California law, and Time's Jeffrey Kluger writes him off:

The anti-vax act has at last gotten old, and it’s gotten tired and the cost—sick children, lost school days, outbreaks of diseases like measles, mumps and whooping cough—has gotten too high.

Like all fringe groups eventually do, the anti-vaxxers are now entering their rump-faction stage, dwindling to an angry, dense, immune-to-reason core. Soon enough, they’ll be gone. The likes of Carrey—today’s foghorn, tomorrow’s footnote—will vanish with them. And America’s children—not for nothing—will be better for it. 

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Original image by Shutterstock.

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