the changing nature of Blasphemy

Oooo, this is such a good talk! I never realized this, but our
notion of blasphemy has changed over the years. It used to mean giving
the finger to God; now, it’s treated as a personal attack (http://kenanmalik NULL.wordpress NULL.com/2012/01/29/beyond-the-sacred/). Thanks, Ophelia Benson (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/01/too-westernized-secular-and-progressive-to-be-authentic/) and Kenan Malik (http://kenanmalik NULL.wordpress NULL.com/)!


HJ Hornbeck

A Learning Experience

[First published on the Freethinkers Mailing List (http://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/249d3b65eecff039).]

There I was, working up to a rant against Allain de Botton’s idea of building an atheist temple, and then he had to go spoil everything by being reasonable (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/tokenskeptic/2012/01/31/token-skeptic-interview-with-alain-de-botton-on-religion-for-atheists/). Jerk.

Continue reading “A Learning Experience” »

Not what I Expected

p
Death threats are a rite of passage for outspoken atheists. Most trash them or file them away, just in case the sender is crazy enough to hunt them down.
/pp
This is the first time I’ve seen an atheist respond by a href=”http://freethoughtblogs.com/rockbeyondbelief/2012/01/28/death-threat-itll-be-painful-god-bless-your-family-in-spite-of-me/”posting his old phone number and home address/a.
/ppiHJ Hornbeck/i/p

Episode 4 Delay

Sorry we haven’t updated a LoR episode this week. We did record on Sunday, but because of technical difficulties (plus a new development that we want to incorporate) there will be no release this week. We’ll be re-recording this Sunday and we hope to have a new episode up soon after.

I’ll give a teaser for people so our listeners can wait with bated breath for the next new download. I went to Xerion Homoeopathie’s anti-vaxx seminar (they disguise it as some kind of altruistic event whereby they are “informing” people about vaccines). I silently sat through two hours of this ridiculous nonsense. Some of it downright disgusted me. There is a high likelihood that this will be presented as a mini-series segment (I’m almost certain that will need to be the way to go so we don’t overload our listeners’ ears with one topic).

Tomorrow, if all goes well, I will be interviewing Dr. Jim Linville, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Lethbridge. Jim will be in town to speak at the University of Calgary tomorrow (Jan 28) on being an atheist in biblical scholarship sponsored by the Calgary chapter of the Center for Inquiry. The talk is in the Bianca Room, MacEwan Student Center on the University of Calgary campus. It promises to be a very interesting talk.

Feminism in Skepticism


[First posted on the Freethinkers Mailing List (http://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/1e3b424aa5c3528f).]

FreethoughtBlogs has been knocking them out of the park lately.

We have to start on the SWIFT website, though, with an interesting article by Steve Cuno (http://www NULL.randi NULL.org/site/index NULL.php/swift-blog/1591-how-to-sabotage-skepticism-from-the-inside-entwine-the-claim-with-the-cause NULL.html). He argues that a claim is independent of any cause, and points out a debate strategy that takes advantage of this:

(1) Make a claim and apply it to a worthy cause.
(2) Should people challenge assumptions underlying the claim, accuse
them of opposing the cause.
(3). Call them names and encourage others to jump on your bandwagon.

It seemed a useful observation to me, and PZ Myers was suckered in by it (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/pharyngula/2012/01/22/the-brine-shrimp-gambit/) too. His commenters, though, pointed to a response by Stephanie Zvan. Having read her take-down, I’m embarrassed I gave Cuno the time of day. The problem, I now realize, is his assertion that claims and causes are independent. Feminism promotes the equality of the sexes, so if sexism did not exist then feminists have nothing to do. Conversely, if we claim sexism exists within the skeptic/atheist movement and back that up with evidence, then the cause of feminism is worthy. Stephanie goes into much more detail than I (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/almostdiamonds/2012/01/22/someone-is-vague-on-the-internet/).

She then followed that up with a detailed example (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/almostdiamonds/2012/01/23/another-sea-monkey-theorist/) of her argument in action.

Coincidentally, Jason Thibeault whipped up an sprawling post about feminism that involves ninjas, Venn diagrams, and (in my opinion) successfully argues that skeptics should be feminist (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/lousycanuck/2012/01/24/is-feminism-skeptical-or-are-ninjas-awesome/).

Enjoy the reading! Hopefully you still have time to do work afterwards…


HJ Hornbeck

Unspeakable terror never looked so Cute!

Stumbled on this one a few months ago, and *HAD* to share it: “The
Call of Cthulhu,” done in the style of Dr. Seuss (http://drfaustusau NULL.deviantart NULL.com/art/The-Call-of-Cthulhu-Cover-260811086)
. Enjoy!

And in case you missed it before, here’s another classic: Little Cthulhu (http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=FOHJUrcVdJk) (embedded below the fold).
Continue reading “Unspeakable terror never looked so Cute!” »

Episode 3 of The Legion of Reason Podcast now available!

A peculiar situation arising from historical contingency has been brewing in the town of Morinville, Alberta. With a population of 8500, one would expect that at least a portion of Morinville’s schools would be public and secular, but not one is. The result is a curious situation where the Catholic school board is also the public one.

Helen, Randy and Twyla discuss separate school systems in Alberta (and Canada in general), its history and the fight by Donna Hunter and other parents for secular education of their children.

And the battle isn’t over yet….

Violence, the Heckler’s Veto of the Coward

I… wow. Yesterday in the UK, the Atheism, Secularism and Humanism Society was going to host a talk titled “Sharia Law and Human Rights.” As the president of their society put it (http://blog NULL.newhumanist NULL.org NULL.uk/2012/01/student-organised-talk-on-sharia-law-at NULL.html): Continue reading “Violence, the Heckler’s Veto of the Coward” »

God thinks like You?

[Cross-posted to the Freethinkers group (http://groups NULL.google NULL.com/group/freethinkers-club/browse_thread/thread/1b999ed7d221b6d0).]

Courtesy John Loftus (http://freethoughtblogs NULL.com/loftus/2012/01/11/creating-god-in-ones-own-image-god-agrees-with-me/), I just got wind of a veeeery interesting
study:

Psychological studies have found that people are always a tad
egocentric when considering other people’s mindsets. They use their
own beliefs as a starting point, which colours their final
conclusions. [Nicholas] Epley found that the same process happens, and
then some, when people try and divine the mind of God. Their opinions
on God’s attitudes on important social issues closely mirror their own
beliefs. If their own attitudes change, so do their perceptions of
what God thinks. They even use the same parts of their brain when
considering God’s will and their own opinions.

Creating God in one’s own image (http://blogs NULL.discovermagazine NULL.com/notrocketscience/2009/11/30/creating-god-in-ones-own-image/)

I was prepared to dismiss it with “correlation does not equal
causation,” but Epley tried to cover that angle by being careful when
he asked for God’s view and manipulating the beliefs of those taking
the study. I’d love a follow-up study with more volunteers!

HJ Hornbeck

The Beginning of the End?

Looks like same-sax marriage may be under threat in Canada (http://www NULL.cbc NULL.ca/news/canada/story/2012/01/12/pol-harper-same-sex-marriage NULL.html):

The renewed attention was sparked by the case of an unidentified lesbian couple who married in Canada in 2005 but split up in 2009. […] The couple went to court last June seeking a Canadian divorce, despite the federal Divorce Act’s one-year residency requirement, which they do not meet. […]
But in addition to the residency requirement, a submission from a federal government lawyer in response to the couple’s case cites another reason for refusing to grant the divorce — that they are not legally married.

To be fair, the government proper seems to have been caught unaware by this, and Harper has said he doesn’t want to re-open the debate. Given how much they love back-room (http://rabble NULL.ca/blogs/bloggers/corvin-russell/leaked-memo-harper-government-plans-backdoor-restructuring-first-natio) shenanigains (http://m NULL.theglobeandmail NULL.com/news/national/the-coming-conservative-court/article2022139/?service=mobile), however, I’m going to keep a close eye on this one…

HJ Hornbeck