Episode 73 (recorded August 25) is the result of a marathon recording session that was even longer, in which Kris, Twylla, Haysn and I discuss the Parti Québécois government in Quebec’s plan to enact legislation that would prohibit the wearing of religious symbols by public employees (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/canada/proposed-ban-on-religious-symbols-in-quebec-a-violation-of-freedom-of-religion-1 NULL.1420848). Is it too far? Would it apply to gratuitous symbol wearing like crucifix necklaces? Would it apply to Sikh turbans? The Calgary Herald posted a story full of sophistry and nonsense about how people turn to faith in times of tragedy (http://www NULL.calgaryherald NULL.com/news/calgary/People+turn+questions+faith+times+tragedy/8571486/story NULL.html), vis-à-vis the recent floods here in Calgary. There may be listeners who feel we are unnecessarily mocking the religious, but some of this sophistic nonsense is actually downright offensive in its implications, and it needs pointing out. And where’s that infamous journalistic ‘balance’? Maybe the author should have taken five minutes to talk to a NONBELIEVER, too. Why is it always just believers, particularly when over 40% of Calgarians are nones? And my favorite person opens his mouth yet again. Bishop Fred Henry weighs in on the repressive anti-gay laws in Russia (http://www NULL.calgaryherald NULL.com/life/Bigger+fish/8809483/story NULL.html), and doesn’t disappoint! Once again, Henry demonstrates that if you are doing it in opposition to what Catholic authorities tell you, you’re doing it right.
After recording episode 72 we kept the conversation going to discuss a topic which draws my ire, and the discussion was too good to leave on the cutting room floor. To that effect, here is a Legion of Reason extra. Over the last year, statements have been made by prominent members of the James Randi Education Foundation that untestable claims are outside the scope of scientific skepticism. To me, this is an artificial boundary on the question of whether a belief should or should not be accepted. Scientific skepticism isn’t just a methodology. It is a philosophy, with one of its characteristics being its positivist nature. That is, we only accept claims for which there is evidence to evaluate. The JREF does a lot of great work, but I think it does a great disservice by suggesting that there are areas of belief which are outside the application of critical thinking.
Welcome to episode 72 of the Legion of Reason podcast, recorded August 18, 2013! I found co-host of the Freethinking Island podcast David Ince floating idly around the Caribbean internets and he joined Kris, Haysn and me from Barbados to discuss how things are going down in the Islands and the formation of the Caribbean Secular Alliance. The Christian flag is being raised this week over Windsor city hall (http://canadianatheist NULL.com/2013/08/08/warning-blanket-alert/) in a blatant violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. We discuss the history of the ‘official’ Christian flag and some potential strategies to counter this blatant example of the flexing of Christian privilege muscle.
EDIT: At the time we were unaware that Windsor city council decided to rescind the decision to allow the Christian flag to be flown at city hall (http://canadianatheist NULL.com/2013/08/09/update-on-warning-blanket-alert/). But to even have considered this proposal without summarily dismissing it as a sending the message of endorsing a single religion gives me a mixed feeling of congratulations and “what the hell?” Mostly the latter. I find it difficult to congratulate people on backing away from something that should never have been done in the first place, but something positive should be said. Score another one for secularism! Props out to Canadian Atheist (http://canadianatheist NULL.com/) for following this!
Later on in the podcast I give an update on what the Office of Religious Freedom has (or rather, has not (http://www NULL.cnn NULL.com/2013/07/31/world/meast/saudi-blogger-sentenced)) been doing lately. Before that, however, Kris and I play host to journalist Katherine Stewart (http://www NULL.thegoodnewsclub NULL.com/about), author of The Good News Club (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.ca/Good-News-Club-Christian-ebook/dp/B0073XR7BM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1376456819&sr=8-2&keywords=good+news+club). Good News Clubs utilize recent SCOTUS rulings to gain access (assuming you have them) and prosthelytize to your children. Misrepresentation of their purpose and the destruction of the separation of church and state which has been the staple of getting along are par for the course with this and other organizations. We need to be aware of who these people are and just exactly what they represent. As always, information is the sword and shield of reason.
Welcome to Episode 70 of the Legion of Reason, recorded August 4, 2013! In this installment, Christine, Twylla, Haysn and I talk about people who think they can fool the universe by surgically altering the lines in their palms (http://www NULL.thedailybeast NULL.com/articles/2013/07/12/your-future-is-in-the-palm-of-your-surgeon-s-hand NULL.html), signs that Muslims in the Middle East are beginning to come out as atheists (http://www NULL.times-standard NULL.com/faith_spirituality/ci_23835182/arab-muslims-turned-atheists-out-shadows-and-onto), and my willingness to put my body on the line once again for science by testing the effectiveness of a new dietary supplement on sleep quality (http://www NULL.ctvnews NULL.ca/health/sleep-aid-from-the-pumpkin-patch-ontario-doctor-creates-all-natural-solution-1 NULL.1387065). But first, we let Christine have her say on the discussion in our last episode of Rex Murphy’s whining over secular chaplains (http://fullcomment NULL.nationalpost NULL.com/2013/07/27/rex-murphy-the-angry-athiest/) and an even more whiny complaint by Tim Stanley over vicious tweets by Richard Dawkins (http://blogs NULL.telegraph NULL.co NULL.uk/news/timstanley/100228442/if-were-cracking-down-on-twitter-abuse-can-we-include-richard-dawkins-and-the-atheist-trolls/).