The Best Pope of the Year!

December 11, 2013

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

Time names Pope Cuddly as Person of the Year, choosing human interest over the genuine news impact of its runners-up. Oh, there I go again, being grouchy. But I definitely think he's the best pope of the year, hands down. (Meanwhile, the magazine also officially corrects its earlier assertion that Mr. Pope had "rejected church dogma.") 

I cannot wait to read this: Jennifer Michael Hecht, one of my heroes, pens a big piece in Politico's magazine on the plight of the open atheist in American politics. (A topic I cover at some length in my wee little mini-book here.)

Isaac Chotner at TNR is more bullish on atheists-as-politicians than Hecht. 

Terry Firma shakes their head at the outlandish and violent behavior of feminist-secularist protesters outside a cathedral in San Juan:

[A]part from the criminality of it, such acts are by definition a debasement of your arguments and intellect; a self-inflicted blow against your cause; and a classless, losing PR strategy if I ever saw one.

Wow: 200,000 people have already applied to the Mars One mission to make a 2025 voyage to Mars and never come back. 

Katie Couric sort of apologizes for giving credence to anti-vax paranoia. 

Rev. Harry Knox opines in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the Baltimore Sun:

For advocates of religious freedom like me, there is a crucial principle at stake: Religious exemptions should never become a tool of discrimination.

Ronald Bailey at Reason makes the libertarian argument for compulsory vaccinations:

There would be no argument against allowing people to refuse vaccination if they and their families would suffer alone the consequences of their foolhardiness. It would be their right to forego misery-reducing and life-preserving treatments. But that is not the case in the real world. 

On the occasion of Human Rights Day yesterday, two members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom write in defense of international enforcement of human rights:

Human rights abuses and their consequences spill beyond national borders, darkening prospects for harmony and stability across the globe. Freedom of religion or belief, as well as other human rights, are essential to peace and security. They are everyone’s business. 

Nathan Schneider deeply considers the value of and the impetus behind searching for "proof" of God

Federal judge: Chimps are not "persons."

Thanks to some techno-algorithmic-whoop-dee-doo, the most important person in history is deemed to be someone who may not have even existed. (I was glad to see Shakespeare at number 3 at least.)

Now it's looking like the conditions for life may have existed in the baby universe, about 15 million years after the Big Bang, on some very early planets. 

Nasir Saeed explores the politics behind Pakistan's recent move to make death the sole punishment for blasphemy

Joe Nickell comments on the Vatican's insistence on parading out the probably-not-genuine bones of St. Peter

Cracked pokes fun at some ghost hunters' techniques and blunders

Ben Radford spells out the truth about Ouija boards:

Of course, logic and common sense suggest that Ouija boards do not actually communicate with the dead; if it did, surely there would be no unsolved homicides, since police detectives would merely need to pull out the Ouija board to contact the murdered victims and ask how they were killed and under what circumstances. Surely, Jimmy Hoffa, Amelia Earhart, Natalee Holloway and countless other spirits would be more than happy to clarify their mysterious disappearances or name their killers. 

I wonder if he consulted his Ouija board before spending $700 on this vaccine

LA Weekly profiles Yvonne Smith, a hypnotherapist whose whole schtick is revealing how you've been abducted by aliens.  

Atheists in Maine, the Downeast Humanists and Freethinkers, make a "natural" Christmas tree float for a local holiday parade. Humanists of Rhode Island, meanwhile, put up a banner in the State House to honor Roger Williams, who turns a youthful 410. 

CNN's iReport has a collection on atheists and the holidays.  

Quote of the Day

Michelle Nijhuis on what it is to be a science writer:

It’s essentially what Dr. Watson does for Sherlock Holmes: By reacquainting the head with the heart, we science writers tell the story of the frustrations, false starts, triumphs and breakthroughs that lead to the solution — or, in many cases, to even more questions. 

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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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