Seriously, Duck and Cover

February 15, 2013

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

So, um, holy crap!

A meteor crashing in Russia's Ural mountains has injured at least 500 people, as the shockwave blew out windows and rocked buildings. . . . A fireball was seen streaking through the clear morning sky above the city of Yekaterinburg, followed by loud bangs. 

And this isn't some thing where it all burned up in the sky. There's a freaking impact crater. I mean, look!

But humans being humans, we get this from the live updates from RT:

11:30 GMT: Parts of the Chelyabinsk meteorite are 'on sale' on some Russian websites. "Will sell meteorite pieces cheap, photos later," an announcement read. 

And of course, this all happens as another asteroid, 2012 DA14, is set to pass us by about 17,000 miles later today. 

In other non-astronomical news...

The folks at Non-Prophet Status decide to try out a secular Lent kind of thing. They ask me to do it, too, and I accept. One of my bosses, Tom Flynn, is none too impressed:

As a secular humanist I view most such efforts with distaste -- consider the source, and all that. As a secular humanist I find the concept of Lent particularly objectionable, and I see no reason why any non-Christian should consult the Christian liturgical calendar when planning his or her life.

Fake psychic Sean David Morton is fined a whopping $11.5 million by the SEC for fraud in the financial markets. 

David Niose warns against polite deference to religious beliefs, as it allows religious activists to run roughshod, unquestioned, as in the case of the Legion of Doom's battle to deny birth control to women:

Here we see the cost of our good manners. With social rules that say we shouldn’t criticize religion, any public debate with the bishops must ignore the theology that is the basis of the bishops' position and focus instead on the proper meaning of the term “religious freedom.” In essence, these men can use their theology as a means of jeopardizing the health of millions.  

Usaama al-Azami argues for reconciliation between evolution acceptance and Islam at HuffPo, in a way that will sound familiar to those doing the same for science and the Bible: 

I'm only presenting how, if it were deemed empirically true, as it nearly unanimously is in the scientific community, it should cause Muslims no trouble with respect to their traditional Islamic beliefs. If the Qur'an appears to be making empirical statements about creation, like the Prophetic statement above, it doesn't need to be understood in an everyday literal sense, even if we hold it to be True in an metaphysical sense. Many Muslims will be familiar with the fact that same logic applies to the many seemingly anthropomorphic descriptions of God in the Qur'an. 

FDA approves "artificial retina" treatment to give limited vision to the blind. 

This Sunday, Point of Inquiry is live at the AAAS conference

CSI's Ben Radford takes to to throw cold water on the alleged discovery of Bigfoot DNA. 

UN human rights leaders blast a bill in Indonesia that would restrict free association that does not jibe with the government's adherence to "Pancasila," the consecration of belief in "one true God."

A new bill in the New Jersey state senate would allow for the solemnization of marriages by any "certified" officiant, including, we presume, secular celebrants. 

Vampirism, diagnosed, for reals

Libby Anne at WaPo on godless love:

Without instructions flowing from religious dogma, atheists are free to simply focus on finding ways to build healthy relationships and on setting a healthy balance between self and others. 

Sharon Hill rounds up the rather ugly attempts to cover up criticism of homeopathy in the UK. 

Take this with a grain of salt: rumors/reports say that Ratzinger has sought or will seek immunity from Italian president Giorgio Napolitano for his role in sex-abuse cover-ups. 

But this is true: You know who gets to have a say in who's the next pope? The LA cardinal, Roger Mahoney, who was just stripped of his duties for his role in sex-abuse cover-ups. 

The Humanist Community at Harvard, AHA, and the Harvard Community of Humanists, Atheists, and Agnostics will drop a humanist lifetime achievement award on Eddie Izzard.

Cody Hashman highlights the latest CFI On Campus affiliate of the week, the one with perhaps the cleverest acronym, the DePaul Alliance for Free Thought (DAFT).  

Quote of the Day

Aaron Boyd at UC-Santa Barbara's The Daily Nexus on the alleged arrogance of atheism:

One of the weirdest things about being an unbeliever is having complete strangers unload a dump-truck full of unspoken assumptions on you when they first learn about your lack of faith. You’ll be having a nice, pleasant conversation with an old lady at a bus stop about crocheting or Jon Bon Jovi, and the moment she hears the A-word, she’ll look at you like you’re Mitt Romney doing standup at the Apollo.  

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#1 Emjay on Friday February 15, 2013 at 10:58am

“Fake psychic”. Thank you for a little extra laugh this morning.

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