The Morning Heresy 11/20/12: Operation Archangel, Mission Aborted

November 20, 2012

Your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Yesterday, Dennis Markuze, aka "Mabus," the Internet tormentor of atheists, skeptics, and others in the reality-based community, was arrested by Montreal police -- again -- for violating the terms of his probation by harassing folks over social media. You may have even been a target of his threats or "prophecies" yourself, often appearing on social media services as "Operation Archangel" and raving about atheists, Jesus, and Nostradamus, among other things. More from the Montreal Gazette and fellow Markuze target Ars Technica. (I know! Who would harass Ars Technica for Pete's sake?)

CFI chief Ron Lindsay laments the recent court decision allowing a publisher of Christian books to claim a religious exemption to the contraceptive mandate of the health reform law:

Score one for the Catholic Church and everyone else who thinks religious liberty implies the right to impose their dogma on others.  

Rimsha Masih is acquitted of blasphemy charges. 

But! Jakarta Post reports that legislatures from OIC countries are discussing coordinated anti-blasphemy laws

I know this kind of thing shouldn't surprise us anymore, but once again, a Republican with a national profile and grandiose aspirations panders to creationism by claiming ignorance of the age of the Earth. Florida senator and GOP dreamboat Marco Rubio:

I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries. 

Well, no. Michael Specter at The New Yorker takes Rubio to task for this kind of intellectual irresponsibility:

Many mysteries remain about the origins of the universe; how rapidly it has expanded, and how all the atomic parts fit together. There is a lot left to learn. But not about whether or not the universe was created in seven days. It wasn’t. Rubio is wrong—it is not a dispute for theologians. It is not a dispute at all. There are not two sides to every issue. Some have thirteen sides and others have one. The only thing that Rubio got right in his conversation . . . is that he is “not qualified to answer a question like that.” 

On the latest Point of InquiryChris Mooney talks to Michael Gordin, author of The Pseudoscience Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe

A new poll shows that 29% of Britons don't believe in God

Ben Radford interviews cartoonist Dan Piraro of Bizarro, "a skeptic at heart," for Skeptical Inquirer

President Obama asks Thai Buddhist monks to pray for help on the budget and looming "fiscal cliff." 

Indiana Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of vouchers for private schools -- including religious schools, of course.

Hey look! Heroes of Science action figures! Look at all of 'em! And there' one woman? Hm.

So about those many, many, many White House petitions. Seems they are losing some cache.   

Scientists look for signs of our own stratosphere.  

Jessica Kirsner at Friendly Atheist: Is this college football player being discriminated against for his atheism

There looks to be something of a crisis with the British Asian community as some are relying on exorcists for "health care." 

Mano Singham: Hey wait, didn't God want Romney to win

Tom Ingram at the Manitoban on the meaning of Carl Sagan Day

Rupert Murdoch tweets some offensive crap about "the Jewish media" and Israel. His biographer Michael Wolff attempts to explain it:

I think that Murdoch . . . is parsing what he sees as "'good Jews" from "bad Jews". Jews are just another subset of the people who are for him or against him, who he either has to manage or isolate. Along with his open dislike of Muslims – once, he explained to me his theory about how Muslims often married close cousins, therefore depressing their general IQ – and his geopolitical views about world domination, supporting Israel, I believe, is a way to win the support of what he perceives as the good Jews. (That is, if you support him, you are a good Jew.)

The Bloop Monster in the South Pacific is not a monster, but an ice quake

Quote of the Day         

Soraya Chemaly is aghast at the tragedy of the death of Savita Halappanavar in Ireland, a victim of enforced dogma, and rejects the idea that it's the church facing a "dilemma":

The question is: How many more women like Savita Halappanavar should we tolerate in our continued privileging of religion's massively gender-informed obsession with sacrifice and innocence, sin and shame? . . . the person with the "dilemma" is the dying woman. Not the hospital. Not the priests. Not the nuns. Not the panel deciding whether she should live or die because she has the misfortune of being in a Catholic hospital, pregnant and in medical distress. 

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. 

Follow CFI on Twitter: @center4inquiry 

Got a tip for the Heresy? Send it to press(at)! 

The Morning Heresy: "I actually read it." - Hemant Mehta